PEOPLE across the UK who took part in the first-ever Brainathlon raised more than £57,000 for three of the UK’s leading neurological research charities.
Launched during this year’s Brain Awareness Week (15 – 21 March), the Brainathlon is a virtual walk, run and climb event and a collaboration between Brain Tumour Research (based in Milton Keynes), Epilepsy Research UK (based in Southwark) and Brain Research UK (based in City of London).
Taking place from Monday 19 to Sunday 25 April, the virtual event challenged participants to walk 10 miles, run 15 miles and climb 1.2 miles (by walking up 2,500 individual stairs or equivalent) to complete the full 26.2 miles of the Brainathlon.
The funds that have been raised will be distributed equally between the three charities to support research, improve outcomes and help people affected by neurological conditions, including brain tumours and epilepsy.
Amongst those who completed the Brainathlon was Elizabeth Lorraine from Oxford. Her dad, Andy, was diagnosed with two brain tumours, both stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), in October 2020. Andy underwent surgery the following month to remove as much of the primary tumour as possible but was told the second tumour is inoperable. He was also given radiotherapy. Sadly, the family have recently been told both tumours have grown. Elizabeth raised more than £1,300.
“We could never have imagined a future in which our dad couldn’t fix something, but brain tumours are beyond the mere human abilities of even a super dad. A brain tumour diagnosis is meant to be a rare thing, but my dad is one of four that I know of. That is why I took part in the Brainathlon and raised money to help researchers find a cure.”
The family of Andy Ager from Yarnscombe near Barnstaple, North Devon, teamed up to complete the Brainathlon after losing him to an aggressive brain tumour in August 2020. Andy was diagnosed with a GBM brain tumour after he began experiencing headaches. He died just weeks after his diagnosis at the age of 50.
His stepdaughter, Abigail Lock, said:
“It was horrific to watch Andy deteriorate so quickly. He was my stepdad but treated me and my sister like we were his own. He began to get headaches at the beginning of the first UK lockdown in March last year 2020 and then, after a while, started to forget to do little things like put a picture up, move a plant pot or do the cooking, which wasn’t like him. He also started getting a lot more tired than usual. The doctor put it down to migraines, but then he started being sick.
“He was admitted to hospital in August and stayed in for a week for tests. That was when the doctors said he had a tumour the size of a golf ball. They also said it was terminal. He died the following month.”
Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said:
“We were pleased to collaborate with Epilepsy Research UK and Brain Research UK to bring hope to the many thousands of people living with neurological conditions and to honour the memory of those who have died.
“The pandemic has meant serious financial disruption for many charities, and the cancellation and postponement of challenge events, which are important fixtures in the fundraising calendar, has been a bitter blow and ongoing consequences and uncertainty.
“Brainathlon was a great opportunity to show that together we can be stronger and to give people the experience of competing in a marathon.”