Ely man, 77, remembers his New York City hand-cycle marathon day after being refused entrance to the London Marathon in 2003
- Credit: Harry Rutter
The 2018 London Marathon brought back memories for an Ely man who 15 years earlier was refused entry to the race because his disabled trike failed a health and safety test.
Undaunted Arthur Cutter, now 77, and his family packed up his hand-cycle and headed to New York where he says they were welcomed with open arms.
“I applied for London but they wouldn’t have me, so my eldest daughter said don’t worry dad, I’ll get you into a marathon,” he recalls.
“So there was no more to do and in November we arrived in New York.”
The hotel that they were staying at let them build the hand-cycle and leave it in reception until the marathon day.
Arthur added: “As we headed to the start line in the car we didn’t realise the road we were driving over would be the one I’d cycle back on during the race.
“So we set off, winding our way through New York; I loved every minute of it.
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“You get to the end and you wear your medal with pride – that was New York, it was wonderful, I’d go back tomorrow.”
Since then Arthur has taken part in hundreds of local races across the county, gathering dozens of medals which he passes down to his grandchildren to “keep them going”.
In the 2012 London Summer Olympics, he was one of the torch bearers that carried the iconic flame along the River Great Ouse.
But he will always recall the disappointment of hearing from the London Marathon organisers that his trike wasn’t up the health and safety standards.
He told the BBC at the time: “I can not be a member of the community (taking part in the event) which I really wanted to be part of.”
A spokesman for the London Marathon told the BBC: “We have to abide by health and safety regulations and sadly Mr Cutter’s bike goes against these.
“We’re not against disabled people taking part in the marathon.
“In fact we’re the only national sporting event which involves disabled people and is televised.”
Undeterred by the decision, Mr Cutter headed for the New York Marathon.
This week he said: “Life is all about achieving, you want to be doing because otherwise you just go brain-dead, and you want life to go on.”
Arthur was left paralysed from the waste down after falling from a ladder while doing DIY on his previous home in Witchford.
He fell onto concrete and couldn’t get up; luckily one of his neighbours was a doctor and instructed paramedics to put a spinal board under him.
He spent almost 10 weeks in Addenbrooke’s Hospital; he had a bottom rib removed and fused to his back bone for extra stability. He thought he’d never walk again.
A specialist sent him to a spinal unit in Sheffield where with the help and support from doctors, Arthur worked at building up strength to walk – he describes the days as “horrendously hard”.
After weeks of physiotherapy Arthur could eventually get up with crutches and get on to the parallel bars, he says it was “the hardest I’ve worked in all my life”.