Hartlepool crash survivor who broke 30 bones battles back to complete 150 parkrun events

A man who had to learn to walk again after a horrific car crash celebrated his 150th parkrun in Hartlepool at the weekend.

Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 7:41 am
Phil Holbrook (left) and Phil Dunn after the fourth anniversary Hartlepool parkrun on Saturday. Photo by Matt Jamie

Phil Holbrook’s running career looked to be over when he was in a crash near Greatham just before Christmas in 2012 that claimed the life of his wife Sally, 48.

He was left in a coma and suffered 30 broken bones, including a shattered pelvis, 20 broken ribs, breaks to his pelvis, in his arm, spine and nerve damage to his left side.

Phil Holbrook

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But on Saturday, he and friend Phil Dunn who was with him through his recovery, completed two impressive milestones with the Hartlepool parkrun social running group which marked its fourth anniversary the same day.

Phil Holbrook completed his 150th 5k parkrun, including at other venues around the country, while Phil Dunn celebrated his 100th with the Hartlepool group.

Mr Dunn, 53, said: “When Phil was in hospital after his accident I visited him regularly and we made a sort of pact when he got out he would try to start running again.

“It coincided with the time that Hartlepool parkrun was starting.

Phil Holbrook

“I wasn’t a runner at all, I was fat and unfit. Since then we have gone on to run marathons together.”

Parkruns are open to people of all ages and abilities. The Hartlepool group meets every Saturday at 9am and runs along the promenade.

Around 150 runners took part the fourth anniversary run on Saturday.

Mr Dunn added: “Phil and I were part of the inaugural Hartlepool parkrun. Saturday was a really good day and it was nice to be part of the celebration.

“It is a really social thing, everyone is very friendly. It is a really positive thing in Hartlepool and is good for your fitness and wellbeing.”

Mr Holbrook, 57, who is retired and lives at the Fens, Hartlepool, added: “It was my 150th parkrun in total. I have done them in 19 different venues. I only need one more to be an official parkrun tourist.

“Nationally there are people who have done over 500 but I think Phil and I are near the top of the Hartlepool run board.”

He previously travelled to parks in Middlesbrough to take part before the Hartlepool group formed after efforts by Heidi Morrison and others.

They also serve as great training for the Great North Run which the two Phils and other friends enter every year in aid of Alice House Hospice under the name Team Sally.