CITY TO SURF STROKE

Reporter Graeme Butler

48,000 people chasing a record, a dream or just hoping to finish - among them was Peter Coghlan. The 36 year old stroke survivor was never going to be first - in fact he finished last, but finishing at all was a remarkable feat that should have been celebrated - it wasn't.

"I didn't want to hold the whole city up for all that time i just wanted to be able to complete the walk and get a certificate" Peter said, "I just would have liked a hand shake or anything at the end but to find no one there at the end was a bit disheartening really"

It took Peter 3 hours 20 minutes to finish - but while Peter never gave up on himself it seems the organisers had given up on him...

"I was a bit slow but i would have thought they'd keep track of us and make sure we'd finished in case were in a ditch somewhere" Peter said.

While Peter was still walking - the police told him they were re-opening the road and he should walk on the Path... the Ambulance officers drove past and told him were finishing up and the water stations abandoned. By the time Peter reached the finish at City Beach the place was deserted -

The city to surf was the realisation of a personal goal for Peter - determined step after determined step Peter finished alongside his wife Anne and his neurosurgeon Professor David Blacker

"It took us a while. I was a bit worried that he might not be able to make it", Professor Blacker said, " I think he got a blister half way through, so he was in pain, but there was no way he was going to give up.

Reaching the finish line for Peter was a far bigger challenge than the 12 kilometre course... it had been years in the making. A stroke had left Peter suffering locked-in Syndrome. Professor Blacker says his recovery has been nothing short of astonishing.

"When we first met, he couldn't move a muscle, so to be covering 12ks doesn't matter how long it takes now, compared to lying in bed totally paralysed, it's just a miracle really"

Peter says he believes the city to surf is a great event... but he thinks organisers should at least wait for every competitor to finish.

"I think it's a great thing they're doing just think i don't want to be a whinging pom i just want them to think next time if you can't do the walk in two hours then there'll be no one there then don't do it" Peter said, "It's a bit rotten really but i don't want a fuss i just want people to be safe".

The event organisers issued the following statement:

"The City to Surf event requires significant road closures, which we endeavour to reopen as soon as possible to minimise impact on the general traffic network. The road closures form part of the approval through WA Police, Main Roads WA and local governments.

An operational convoy consisting of Police, Ambulance and a participant assistance vehicle follows the last walkers along the course and organisers monitor its progress throughout the event. Mr Coghlan was identified to management in the command centre by the convoy following the closure of the start line on St Georges

Terrace who were concerned about his slow progress along the course. Approximately 20 minutes later management were updated on his progress and as he was more than one kilometre behind the next walker a decision was made to request that Mr Coghlan move to the footpath so the roads could continue to ope

behind the convoy, which he did without hesitation.

Staff officially acknowledged Mr Coghlan and his two companions when they reached the finish precinct on West Coast Highway and awarded them with official finisher medals, bottles of Powerade and an offer of fresh fruit. Following this, City to Surf staff further assisted in videoing the three participants on Mr Coghan's

iPhone as a memento of successfully completing the 12 kilometre walk before driving he and his wife in an event vehicle to where they were being collected.

Mr Coghlan's finishing time will be included on the official event website"