Melissa Young, in Newcastle upon Tyne, has raised funds for Alzheimer’s Society at every Great North Run since 2020.
I have hypermobility and osteoarthritis and, about seven years ago, I was sat in my wheelchair watching Sir Mo Farah pass me at the Great North Run.
I go to a lot of sporting events, but I’ve never experienced anything like it – that mass of people going past you is absolutely incredible.
We sat next to the Alzheimer’s Society support bus and the staff were so friendly.
We chatted about our family’s experience of Alzheimer’s and how devastating it had been, plus some of the lighter moments.
But most of all, we said ‘thank you’ for all the support the charity gave us whilst my nan and aunt were living with this cruel disease.
Without the Society’s support, I don’t think our family would have gotten through it as well as we did.
It’s nice to be able to give something back by fundraising.
‘If I can do this, then…’
I was about to undergo some intense physio and made it my goal to walk the Great North Run in under six hours.
In 2019 I did a 13-mile Trek26 at Hadrian’s Wall on crutches.
Those steps were hilarious – I did half of it on my bum! But I was determined to finish, and I had a group of people supporting me.
I thought, ‘If I can do this, then I can do the Great North Run.’ I signed up, then Covid struck.
I persisted with training and lockdown even helped, as I was determined to go for my daily walk.
Using crutches, I completed the virtual 2020 Great North Run in four hours.
Leaving crutches behind
This spurred me on and, in 2021, I did the revised route, leaving the crutches at home this time.
I completed the distance in three hours and 45 minutes.
But I wanted to experience the Red Arrows flying over the Tyne Bridge, so signed up again in 2022.
My finish time was quicker, and I even managed to run a bit – but still no Red Arrows! So, I’ve signed up to the Great North Run for the next six years, each time raising money for Alzheimer’s Society to say ‘thank you’ for supporting my family.
This September I also completed the Stonehenge Trek26 because I wanted to do a marathon before turning 50.
What I didn’t realise was that the Great North Run was just one week later!
Age is no barrier.
One runner I know of is doing marathons in his 90s. If he can do it, what excuse have I got? I’m half his age!
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