Marathon crochet challenge for ‘Extreme Knitting Redhead’ Susie Hewer

Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion Susie Hewer will attempt to beat her own Guinness World Record for creating the longest crochet chain while running a marathon in London next month.

Posted on 21st March 2014

Inspirational runner Susie Hewer could stitch her way into the history books at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon while boosting funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The flame-haired fundraiser, from Ewhurst Green in East Sussex, will attempt to beat her own Guinness World Record for creating the longest crochet chain while running a marathon on Sunday 13 April. As ever Susie, known as the ‘Extreme Knitting Redhead’, will run in memory of her mum, Peggy, who died with vascular dementia in 2005, aged 89.

Susie took up running in 2002 and ran her first marathon two weeks after losing her mum. Over the past eight years she has entered dozens of races – including 31 marathons – in Peggy’s memory and raised over £30,000 for pioneering dementia research.

Her current crochet record is 77.4m (253ft) which she achieved at the London Marathon in 2010. She finished in a time of 5hrs 42mins and averaged an incredible 2.9m per mile. She was also the first person to run a marathon while knitting and set the Guinness World Record for creating the longest scarf over the 26.2-mile distance. Susie has the backing of Deramores – the UK’s largest online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies – which is providing her with free yarn for next month’s record attempt.

Aside from the marathon, Susie is undertaking a running challenge with a twist to mark her 57th birthday in June. To represent the ‘five’ in her age, Susie will run a minimum of 5k every day for five months until 31 May. During that time she will also run five marathons, starting with two marathons in a weekend at the end of March. To represent the ‘seven’ in her age, Susie will run two additional marathons in the autumn.

Furthermore, on her way into London on race-day, Susie will start crocheting a lap blanket as a gift for someone with dementia. She will invite people to add a few stitches before the race starts. Once she’s crossed the line, Susie will complete the blanket and attach it to her crochet chain.

Susie, a Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“My dear mum is my inspiration for running. Every marathon I complete is a tribute to her. Having watched her fade away with vascular dementia, I’m determined to do everything I can to raise money and awareness for the research experts, Alzheimer’s Research UK. When Mum was 80 she had a series of mini strokes. She’d been living with us for some time so my husband, Mike, and I didn’t notice the gradual changes in her behaviour. But when she started seeing imaginary people, wandering out of the house and getting violent mood swings, we knew something serious was wrong.

“It was a terrible shock when I realised Mum didn’t recognise me as her daughter anymore. My sweet natured Mum turned into an angry and confused person, incontinent and unable to do anything for herself, awake most of the night. Life became almost unbearable. It broke my heart when she had to go into a care home for the last months of her life. She died the day after her 89th birthday. Thoughts of Mum keep me focused when running gets tough.

“I use crochet, which forms a series of interlocking chains, as a way of explaining how dementia breaks the link between brain cells. In a healthy brain, thoughts flow freely between each connected section, while dementia breaks the links between cells until the brain is no longer able to function. My mum also taught me to crochet when I was very young so it has an extra special meaning for me. Shortly before my last attempt I suffered neck problems following a car crash and had to use a really lightweight yarn. Even then it hurt my neck like mad. I have unfinished business and I’m confident I can crochet an even longer chain this year. Even though I’ll still have neck ache by the end of it, it will be worth it to help Alzheimer’s Research UK progress with its groundbreaking research.”

Jodie Vaughan, Community Fundraising Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Susie is an amazing Champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK and we can’t thank her enough for her continued efforts to raise money for our pioneering research. During the past eight years Susie has raised over £30,000 for the charity, enough to pay for 1,500 hours of world-class research and vital equipment for our scientists. Her remarkable efforts are helping bring us closer to finding ways to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK living with dementia today, including over 10,000 people in East Sussex – one of the highest county figures. Surrounding those people is a network of family members and carers profoundly affected by the condition. Dementia poses one of the greatest threats to public health now and in the future, but funding for research still lags far behind other serious diseases. We are so grateful to Susie and to all our wonderful supporters, who we rely on to fund our crucial research.”

To help Susie raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s vital research, donate online at For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit

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