“I can, I will, I am”. That’s my positive mantra. That’s what spurs me on when I’m running.
I ran my first marathon almost by accident. I was working in Jersey at the time and just thought I’d give it a go.
It’s wasn’t until 22 years later that I ran my next one, over in America. My time was only seven minutes slower than when I had run two decades before.
Then I spotted the 7x7x7 Challenge – seven marathons in seven locations in seven months. I’m a Yorkshireman and I like a good deal, and there was a big discount if you signed up for all seven!
This gave me the running bug. It was really good for me too. I’ve struggled with depression since I was a teenager, but when I’m running I just get into my body and the physicality of it. It gives me a real buzz.
Four years ago, I completed my 100th marathon aged 74, making me the oldest member to join the UK '100 Marathon Club’. Age certainly isn’t stopping me!
But less than six months after that, I was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
It was actually a reassurance. I was ill, but I didn’t know why. So to be told I had a specific condition was a real relief. I was pleased to get a diagnosis as then it meant I knew what I was dealing with, rather than being uncertain.
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain, and this can lead to common dementia symptoms – like memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving and language. My dementia has definitely slowed me down. My memory is not as good as it was. But I cope with it by having a laugh at myself – if I’m struggling to find a word, I just make up my own one!
My consultant also told me to carry on running to help manage my symptoms, so I am determined to keep active.
That’s why I’m taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon this year, and I’m proud to be running for the Dementia Revolution. Not only is running beneficial for my health, but this time I’m also powering much needed research at the UK Dementia Research Institute.
Hundreds of researchers, all experts in their fields, are working towards breakthroughs every day.
It is such a privilege to be running to fund their work; running to help other people like me.
Progress has already been made, and with support I know that they can achieve even more.
I also hope that the Dementia Revolution helps people understand what dementia is really about. When I was diagnosed I was unsure how people would treat me. There are still a lot of myths and misconceptions and we desperately need to overthrow these old attitudes.
My dementia does not define me, it does not define the person that I am. So far I’ve run 15 marathons since my diagnosis. In all the marathons I have run I have never, ever hit the wall and I will carry on running for as long as I’m able.
I’m really proud to have joined the Dementia Revolution and I’m proud to be leading the charge towards a cure. I’d be really grateful for any donations to support me in powering dementia research.
Please stand with me. Together we will beat dementia.