Ultra people: Adam Connor – ‘One kidney down’

Adam Connor is a 50-year-old Sydneysider who found out a couple of weeks before completing the Badwater event last year that he only has one kidney.

“I’ve had elevated liver function so the doctor thought I’d been lying to him about drinking. He sent me off for an ultrasound and the ultrasound lady said, ‘your liver is fine but I can only see one kidney.’

Connor didn’t tell his doctor about Badwater.

These days, Connor is a galaxy away from what he describes as the “lazy kid who was made reserve in the squash team so he could play video games.”

“I was dedicated non-exerciser,” he says.

In 2003, Connor split from his partner of 12-years and three years later, his computer retail business of 15 years, which at one stage was a BRW Fast 100 company, went bust.

“I’d had pretty good success in business before that. I’d gone from [running a business] turning over millions and millions of dollars per year to being out of work before Christmas and having lost 10 people their jobs,” he says.

He walked away from the business and the relationship with nothing, borrowing money from his parents to buy furniture.

“It was pretty grim … I was horribly depressed,” he says. “I [had] some fairly horrendous personal habits, eating everything in sight and doing a very good job of killing my future prospects.”

Connor knew that he could regain some of the early success he had achieved in business but needed a healthy distraction to start moving in the right direction again. Worried about his ability to get another girlfriend, Connor hired a personal trainer to help him lose weight. After his business failed, the trainer, a former boxer and rugby player from Blacktown, would travel into North Sydney and run with him free of charge.

“When you are in a really bad way there are often some very giving people. This is a bloke who didn’t have a lot, not like millionaires around here [on Sydney’s North Shore], and yet he gave up his own time twice a week to make sure I was ok. To this day, I will be happy to bail him out whenever,” Connor says.

Connor is now married with a young son and since 2011, he has completed the North Face 100 ultramarathon in the NSW Blue Mountains seven times, the 240km Coast to Kosciuszko run twice, as well as three attempts at the Great North Walk with two finishes.

“It [Great North Walk] is a deeply scary race, it’s horrendous. It’s not just the terrain, the climbs and the fact that it’s unmarked but it’s 175km and you’ve only got 36 hours to finish it. I met a guy going the wrong way the last time; he hadn’t seen a human being for nine hours,” he says.

Unfortunately, Connor’s travels in recent years have taken their toll. His knee is hurting and it is sporting a keloid scar which hides something more sinister underneath.

“I fell over just before Badwater and was able to do the race ok but four weeks later, my knee swelled up. I probably should seek some medical attention, it’s been a few months now; I’m sure it’s fixable,” he says.

Connor did go to the doctor and a recent MRI scan revealed he has fluid in his knee, small amounts of missing cartilage in the patella and tibial plateau and some bone bruising. But this sort of damage doesn’t seem to bother him and he’s not overly concerned about the prospect of not being able to run in the future.

“If I couldn’t run again, I’d have to find some other sport because of the way I eat. Running isn’t this magic, intrinsically superb thing that I need to do every day. I don’t have any drive to do running except to be a better me and running has been very good to me. I’ve made so many friends and been to many awesome places and had incredible adventures,” he says.

If you have a story to tell about how running ‘found’ you, we’d love to hear from you. Contact me at dan@ultra168.com for a quick chat 🙂

Byron Connolly
Byron Connolly is a Sydney-based writer, yoga and running enthusiast. Byron's knocked off a few ultras in his time, namely UTA and Mount Solitary, while in 2011 he was named ‘Rookie of the Year’ at Campbelltown Joggers Club.

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