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Snowboarding accident won’t stop Norwich optician’s marathon bid

PUBLISHED: 19:27 10 April 2014 | UPDATED: 19:27 10 April 2014

Norwich optician Ben Conway who is taking part in the London Marathon.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Norwich optician Ben Conway who is taking part in the London Marathon. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

Just 10 weeks ago Ben Conway injured his back in a snowboarding accident in the French Alps, but the trainee dispensing optician is determined not to let that stop him doing this year’s Virgin London Marathon.

His injury in January left him unable to walk for a few days and he has hardly been able to run since, but despite this the 32-year-old has said he will do everything he can to cross the finish line on Sunday.

“I want to run the whole way but if it is really too much I will walk,” said Mr Conway, who works at the Norwich-based Dipple and Conway opticians started by his great-grandfather in 1916.

“The main thing is to finish. I do not really care about the time. I want to raise as much money as I can for Break.”

Mr Conway, from Dereham Road, in Norwich, had been on holiday with friends in Les Menuires when the accident happened. It was his first snowboarding vacation.

He said he thought he was travelling at about 30mph when his board got stuck in a rut in the ice and pivoted him on to his back.

“I had been going down some really difficult hills, and some red slopes, but at the time I was on quite a slight track, really undramatic, and I just anchored the board in the ice and wiped out,” he said.

“It was a coming together with the mountain. I was snowboarding and I caught an edge. I saw red and I could not speak or stand up for five minutes.”

Mr Conway – who suffered a prolapsed disc in his back – was taken down the mountain by snowmobile and went first to the doctors and then the hospital for treatment.

Mr Conway said he “could not really walk or move around for a couple of days” and for some time he had to wear a special back support.

What happened has put paid to Mr Conway’s big plans to train hard and beat the previous London Marathon times of his brother Edmund, father Damian, and uncle James, but he remains determined to complete his first marathon on Sunday despite not having been able to do much training because it was too painful to run.

“I really wanted to beat all of their times but I know that’s not going to happen now. As long as I finish, that’s the main thing,” said Mr Conway, who has previously completed two Norwich half-marathons without doing serious training.

He said he has physiotherapy and done some cycling and sessions on a treadmill to prepare for Sunday’s marathon. He thought the crowd – and the goodwill of friends, family and patients who have sponsored him – would spur him on.

Ben hopes to raise at least £2,000 for children’s charity Break. Visit

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