A Year of Challenges for Lyme

Lyme disease research is a cause close to Alex Hamlin’s heart.

So, along with his partner and some family members, he has decided to take on an epic year of challenges to raise money for Caudwell LymeCo.

And when we say epic, we mean epic!

As experienced runners, he knew they needed do something special in order to motivate their friends, family and colleagues to dig deep and sponsor him.

This means taking on FIVE marathons, one ultra marathon, one half marathon, two Three Peaks Challenges, one 10km, and an abseil between them! All within 12 months.

We think this is truly amazing and we are so grateful to Alex and his family for doing this.

Here, he tells us why he’s taking on these challenges, how he’s training for such a feat, and what it would mean to him to raise this money for Lyme research.

1. Alex, tell us why you’re taking on these challenges for Caudwell LymeCo.

Claire and I (and family members) are taking part in multiple challenges in 2021 as we would like to raise both awareness and vital funds for a charity that has been of great help to my sister in 2020. Vicky has not only been battling with Stage 4 endometriosis, but also Lyme disease, which has gone on for years undiagnosed.

She has been housebound since December 2016, and after multiple hospital admissions, more hospital appointments that she can count, and close to seeing 20 doctors, was finally diagnosed in March 2020 with Chronic Lyme disease and 4 co-infections.

Caudwell LymeCo have been of great support Vicky during a difficult 2020, and so we would like to raise awareness and funding for such a supportive charity.

L-R Alex’s mum, Ruth, brother Chris, Alex and sister Vicky, before she became seriously unwell

2. What is your list of challenges, and who is involved?

So far, we have entered the following events (subject to any Covid restrictions):

  • Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge (April)
  • Edinburgh marathon and Half marathon (May)
  • National 3 Peaks Challenge (June)
  • South West Coast to Coast 100km Ultra marathon (July)
  • Chicago marathon (October)
  • Tokyo marathon (March 2022)

If this wasn’t enough, then we also potentially have the following events lined up should we be successful in deferrals from 2020 or through various ballot entries:

  • Bristol 10k (May)
  • Boston marathon (September)
  • London marathon (October)
  • Abseil from the Orbital Tower in the Olympic Park (TBC)

Most of these events will be tackled by myself and Claire, but we have managed to convince some family members to join us on both Three Peaks challenges, the Bristol 10k and the Edinburgh marathon. So it should be quite a family affair throughout the year!

3. How did you come up with the idea?

Given that we have entered various events and run marathons in the past for charity, we both realised that we would need to “up our game” this year, and so have decided to enter several challenges to push us to the extreme!

Clearly we both have the appetite to push ourselves, as well as raising awareness for a good cause.

4. How much are you hoping to raise?

We are hoping to raise £5000, although do appreciate that donations may be harder to come by given the current climate.

5. What would being able to raise this money mean to you?

Predominantly, raising money for Caudwell LymeCo would be a way of giving back to a charity who have provided (and continue to provide) much support to Vicky as she has battled through different treatments and trials throughout 2020, and always being available to her when needed.

As well as raising vital funds for Caudwell LymeCo, it is also important to raise awareness of the charity itself and what it strives to achieve, as well as how Lyme disease can be contracted and signs to look out for.

From speaking to friends and family, most people seemingly have heard of Lyme disease, but then go on to ask what it actually is. If we can help with this awareness to our friend and family networks, this will also be an achievement.

6. What does your training schedule look like?

In all honesty, the training schedule looks pretty daunting, and in some places horrendous!

One of the challenges in planning was trying to juggle the demands of different training plans (marathon and mountain climbing training is very different to training for our first ultra marathon for example) – in an ideal world we wouldn’t be doing so many events at once, but that’s how we have decided to push ourselves!

Training itself starts at the end of January and gradually winds up, before ramping up significantly a couple of months later. One of the key things we will need to ensure is that we don’t pick up any injuries and listen to our bodies during the intense training programme – a challenge in itself.

We are both looking forward to a break after the last event in October, but then my training must continue for the Tokyo marathon in March 2022.

7. Which event are you most looking forward to? And the one you’re least looking forward to?

Personally, I am most looking forward to the Chicago marathon, as I took part in this in 2019 and it was such a great experience. Now I have the opportunity to run an overseas marathon with Claire (travel restrictions allowing) which should be an exciting and rewarding experience.

From Claire’s perspective she has always wanted to participate in an overseas marathon and is also looking forward to the 3 Peaks Challenges and Ultra with family around to support.

Equally, we are both looking forward to the 100km Ultra marathon, as this will be the longest distance either of us have run in a single event, and will truly test our bodies and mental strength. In saying this, perhaps this is therefore the one we are least looking forward to, as it is somewhat the fear of the unknown!

But in general the least exciting aspect of these challenges is all the training!

8. What advice would you give to people wanting to take on a challenge like yours? Or any kind of challenge that would be just as difficult for them?

My main advice would probably be to book an event without giving yourself too much time to think about what you’re doing! If you have a personal reason for doing a challenge and you have already booked it, then you should have plenty of motivation to get some training in and achieve your goals!

Set yourself a challenge that is realistic though, but also one that remains a challenge – this will help to convince people to part with their sponsorship!

Want to support them?

You can read more about Vicky’s story, and sponsor Alex, Claire and the family on their JustGiving page.

Inspired by Alex and his family? Passionate about improving care for Lyme patients on the NHS?

Why not take on your own fundraising challenge? It doesn’t have to be a physical feat the size of theirs – fundraising can be done by anyone of any ability.

Give the toll of the current pandemic restrictions, this could be a great time to set a challenge that will inspire, motivate and give you purpose.

Visit our Fundraise For Us webpage for ideas, or contact Rosie Milsom for an informal chat on 07342 882111. You can also email lymecocharity@caudwell.com.

Posted in Blog posts, Fundraisers.

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