Man to run 25th London Marathon in a row after battling Covid-19 and leg injury

A father who contracted coronavirus and then developed complications which left him fearing that he may lose his right leg is preparing to run his 25th consecutive London Marathon.

Simon Gallo, of Stratford St Andrew in Suffolk, said his Covid-19 symptoms started after he collected his son from university in Oxford in March.

The 61-year-old salesman said he was “flattened” by the virus and, while his immune system was weakened, he developed a rare skin condition called pyoderma gangrenosum.

“It took advantage of a small cut on my leg and basically consumed the bottom half of my right leg below the knee, all the way down to the ankle,” he said.

“It just looks like a sort of zombie flesh-eating thing, where – to be gory – lumps of flesh and blood and God knows what just fell off.”

He added: “At one point my leg was at risk.”

He was not hospitalised with Covid-19, instead speaking with his GP on the phone, but received treatment for his leg.

Mr Gallo, who is diabetic, said his leg has improved but he is still on steroids and has regular appointments at a leg clinic.

He has recovered from coronavirus but still has no taste or smell, has some breathlessness and low energy levels.

“I feel OK, relatively, and I certainly wasn’t as ill as some people in hospital,” he said.

“But this leg thing was a complete bolt out of the thing and it’s consumed my whole blooming year basically, as well as my leg.”

He got his Virgin London Marathon place from the NSPCC and plans to run this year’s virtual race to raise money for both the NSPCC and for Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity.

He will wear surgeons’ scrubs for the virtual race on October 4, following one-mile laps around the perimeter of Ipswich Hospital until he has completed the 26.2 mile distance.

“I’m determined because this will be my 25th consecutive London marathon,” said Mr Gallo.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen but of course they turned it from the real thing to deferring it from April to October to now a virtual thing where we all do it our own way.”

He said he still has open wounds on his leg but the steroids have helped it to recover.

“Having not worn any shoes since March at all other than flip-flops because I couldn’t get them on my right foot I’ve now got my trainers on unlaced,” he said.

“I’m one of the world’s slowest runners but this is going to be hilarious on Sunday.

“But I will get there and it’s something I desperately want to do.

“It’s hardly in return for the care I’ve received – which is invaluable – but I could not be more grateful.

“I’m doing it for the passion and for the want to be included.

“I’ve been so holed up here for so long, I can’t wait to get out there again.”

He said he usually weighs around 12 to 13 stone, but his weight has increased to around 15 stone as the steroids make him retain fluid.

He hopes to complete the distance in around six-and-a-half hours.

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