Aberdeen grandfather runs 2,660km in charity challenge


By Philip Tubby | Tuesday 14 November 2017

A grandfather ran further than the distance from Aberdeen to Moscow to finish top of the leaderboard in a charity running challenge.

John Elrick, 61, clocked up 2,660km while taking part in Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Running Down Dementia initiative.

More than 4,000 people signed up for the charity’s award-winning campaign this year. They were challenged to run or walk 100km between May and the end of October and raise £100 for pioneering dementia research. However, many people run further and raise more money as they compete for places on the leaderboards.

John Elrick

John was also part of the Hazlehead parkrun team who finished top among the 676 teams for distance. The 31 members ran more than 20,000km – that’s half the circumference of the Earth.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-two said:

“I’m really chuffed to be top of the leaderboard. I was very surprised, I didn’t know anything about it until one of the team members told me I was top.”

John only got back into running at the end of 2015 having given up 23 years previously. However, he has returned to the sport with a vengeance and runs every day, clocking up 40 to 60 miles a week.

He has already completed a personal challenge to run 2,017 miles this year, with some of the mileage from the 44 organised races he has competed in, including half-marathons, 10km and 5km races. He has seven races left to run this year.

His favourite races this year were the Dyce Half Marathon where he recorded a late-life personal best of one hour 43 minutes and 48 seconds and the Bennachie Hill Race and Brodie Castle 10k where he won cash prizes for finishing third in his age group.

John, who works as an operations supervisor for a railway company, said:

“I stopped running towards the end of 1994 mainly due to injury, I had really painful knees. My times were getting slower so I gave up.

“My elder sister persuaded me to have another go. I had been following her and her chums around the circuit just taking photos and videos at the races and she convinced me to get back into it.

“I absolutely love running. It makes me feel good and I get a real sense of achievement from it. I’ve given up trying to get PBs every time I go out, but it’s nice when you try that bit harder and get a fast time.

“Although the knee pain is back it’s not as bad as it was before and it’s manageable.”

John raised £273 for life-changing dementia research by taking part in Running Down Dementia and has loved the challenge.

He said:

“Running Down Dementia is great. It cost me nothing to take part. It’s a very worthwhile cause, anything we can do to help cure dementia has to be a good thing.”

Overall 4,062 runners signed up for Running Down Dementia this year, raising £247,000. They ran 367,178km – nearly the distance to the Moon and more than nine times around the Earth.

Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Alzheimer’s Research UK is proud to be the official charity partner of parkrun, so we were delighted to see John and the Hazlehead parkrun team at the top of the leaderboards. The parkrun community have been fantastic supporters of Running Down Dementia.

“The vital funds raised by John and the thousands of runners who have taken part in Running Down Dementia will power world-class dementia research projects helping to shape our understanding of the condition and open the door to new treatments.”

Anyone interested in taking part in next year’s Running Down Dementia challenge can pre-register at www.runningdowndementia.org/register

Alzheimer’s Research UK has launched a new cycling initiative called Cycling Down Dementia challenging people to ride either 300 or 1,000 miles before the end of January and raise £150. To sign up go to www.cyclingdowndementia.org

For further information about Alzheimer’s Research UK, or to find out more about fundraising for the charity, call 0300 111 5555 or visit www.alzheimersresearchuk.org


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Philip Tubby