There was a time when Williams Lake resident Sheldon Manchur thought he might not ever be able to participate in any sort of strenuous physical activity again.
Now, after overcoming Still’s disease — a long-term chronic disease resulting in joint pain and swelling — his way, he’s preparing to race this coming April in the world-famous Boston Marathon.
Manchur, now 28, was diagnosed just following his Grade 12 year.
“Right away the doctors were able to find a medication that worked for me, so as long as I was on the medication, which was a daily injection, I never had any problems,” he said.
“Starting in the fall of 2010, I’d been on the medication at that point for eight or nine years, I wanted to try to get off it. It was something I didn’t want to be on for the rest of my life.”
Unbeknownst to his doctor at the time, Manchur began to completely revamp his diet. He began eating a strictly raw fruits and vegetables diet.
“I wouldn’t say I ate too unhealthily before, but it was very much a standard Canadian/American diet with a lot of meat and potatoes, stuff like that,” he said.
“Right away, within a week of switching, I was able to push back the medication treatments from going every day, to every second or third day, and every week it got longer and longer.”
By the time two months rolled around, on Jan. 1, 2011, Manchur took the last of his medication.
“I haven’t taken another shot since then,” he said.
“I was 100 per cent, everything was great but it didn’t make for very fun eating times, so I slowly started introducing other foods back into the diet, things I considered healthy like whole grains and some meats. What ended up being the problem was dairy seemed to be the trigger.
“Now that I’ve cut out dairy I can eat a total wide variety of food. But, I learned a big lesson out of this — to stay eating healthy and just the most basic, whole food you can do.”
Meanwhile, his doctor was less than impressed, he said.
“I’d talked to them about diets before but they didn’t seem too interested,” he said. “After I’d stopped taking my medication I went to Kamloops to see my doctor, and I told her I hadn’t taken anything for three weeks and it’s because of this diet. She, unfortunately, wasn’t very happy with that and she was concerned. I guess that’s kind of where our relationship ended, and I haven’t gone back or needed to go back since.”
Once healthy, Manchur quickly picked up where he’d left off. He’d been an active teenager prior to being diagnosed with Still’s disease, and decided to get back into running.
“I was always pretty active,” he said. “In elementary school I always competed in track and field at the Boitanio Park Run. I’d always played soccer and hockey but that ended after high school, but this was something I had interest in.”
He started training for competitive half and full marathons last year, and competed in his first race, the Palm Springs Half Marathon, in February of 2012, crossing the finish line in one hour and 20 minutes in ninth place. Following that, he raced in the Vancouver Marathon in May, finishing in a time of two hours and 53 minutes.
To train Manchur runs at the gym between seven to 10 miles Monday to Friday. On weekends he runs between 12 to 20 miles outside.
To cap it off, this past February, he went back to the Palm Springs Half Marathon, finishing first out of 900 runners in a time of one hour, 16 minutes and 49 seconds.
It was his time at the Vancouver Marathon, however, that qualified him for the upcoming April 15 Boston Marathon.
“That’s a big one — one of the bigger ones in the world,” he said.
“I think there are around 30,000 runners with a huge prize purse.”
Manchur said he hopes to have fun, and also plans on improving on his Vancouver Marathon time.
“I have a general idea of where I’d like to be,” he said. “I hope to finish about 10 or 15 minutes faster than Vancouver a year ago, and I think it’s a realistic goal.
“It’s going to be pretty neat. And after Boston I’ll probably do the local KidSport Classic half marathon in June, and hopefully find something in the fall to race.”