Running alone but supporting dementia research together


By Lucy Squance | Wednesday 22 April 2020

The COVID-19 situation has seen all fundraising sporting events over the next few months cancelled or postponed.

The Virgin Money London Marathon will now be on 4 October, while the Brighton, Manchester and Edinburgh marathons all have new dates in September or October. Many other events have also been rescheduled or the organisers are working to confirm new dates.

It has been hard for our supporters who have put so much effort into their training to have to miss out or change their plans and face a long wait to line up at the start of their chosen event.

Our Sporting Events Team have been busy contacting supporters to keep them informed of what is going on with their races. While there has obviously been a lot of disappointment, we have been inspired to hear so much positivity from them.

It’s been great to hear supporters viewing the postponement of their event as an opportunity to use the time to raise even more money for dementia research and smash their fundraising targets. It’s brilliant to know our supporters are finding a way to continue to support our work in these extraordinary times.

Local Landmarks Challenge

A great example of this determined spirit was seen recently among our London Landmarks Half Marathon runners.

This event was due to take place on 29 March and the race organisers are currently working to confirm a new date later in the year.

Many of our team of 450 runners for this event put their training to good use by taking on the Local Landmarks Challenge.

They have completed solo runs, while ensuring social distancing, along routes featuring their local landmarks, and have been posting pictures on social media. For many, it has helped bring in some more donations for their fundraising.

Among them was Elsa Smith. She signed up to run London Landmarks in honour of her dad who was diagnosed with mixed dementia (Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia) in January last year aged just 54. She ran a half marathon by the seafront at Bournemouth and Poole.

She said: “It was gruelling to say the least! There were gale-force headwinds along the seafront for the last seven miles. But I’m so glad I did it.

“I signed up for London Landmarks as a way to do something positive out of the situation with my dad’s dementia. It’s been so painful for my family seeing our kind, loving, gentle dad fade before our eyes.

“It was great to do the challenge, putting all the training to good use, and I’m now looking forward to, hopefully, running the event later in the year.”

Sue Leach made her run extra special by visiting her dad’s grave at the end of her half marathon around her village in Devon.

And a neighbour kindly set up a surprise post-race celebration for her, putting out balloons and a banner to welcome her home, as well as a glass of prosecco.

Sue signed up to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon in memory of her dad, who died in 2015 with vascular dementia.

She said: “It was such a special but tearful moment to visit my dad at the end of the run. I did it for him and he would be so proud of me.”

Keith Williams completed his half marathon dressed as Ginger from the Spice Girls. He donned the outfit after his bid to break a world record at the London Landmarks with four others dressed as the girl band had to be put on hold.

And spare a thought for Niel Hoogenhout, who lives in Cape Town. In South Africa people are not allowed to exercise outside of their homes during the lockdown, so Niel ran his half marathon around his house – a total of 302 laps!

He said: “I’m really glad my efforts have made people smile. That was really my main goal. I figured if I could make one person smile in these trying times, then it would be worth it.”

At Alzheimer’s Research UK we can’t wait to get back out and cheer on our supporters at races up and down the country. And I’m sure those glasses of bubbly at our post-race receptions will now taste even better for our supporters!

2.6 Challenge

The organisers of the biggest mass-participation sporting events across the country have come together to create a new campaign called The 2.6 Challenge to raise vital funds for charities to help fill the gap following the postponement of events.

You don’t have to be a runner. Anyone can raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK by taking on any activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 on Sunday 26 April – the day the London Marathon was originally due to take place.

Take part in the 2.6 Challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK

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About the author

Lucy Squance

Lucy is Director of Supporter-led Fundraising at Alzheimer's Research UK.

Her team includes Sporting Events, Corporate, Community Fundraising and the Central Fundraising Team.

Since starting at Alzheimer’s Research UK in 2016, Lucy has built a successful department enabling supporters to fundraise through leveraging their own talents and passions.