In 2018, James decided to take on the terrific 12 marathons in 12 months. He excelled within the challenge and here tells us his story.

My story

I was first introduced to ataxia in 2015 when I met my girlfriend Terri, whose sister Helen was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia in 2004. I was shocked by the small number of people who had heard of the condition and ever since then, I’ve wanted to raise awareness of ataxia.

Beautiful views and a PB (personal best)

Over the course of the year I was fortunate enough to travel across the UK and run in some beautiful places, including the Isle of White, Windsor and Bath. I enjoyed running in every event, but the Reading race in July was my favourite (it was 30 degrees!). I was also really pleased to achieve my new personal best on the marathon in Windsor, completing the race in 3:45:36.

My only companions were sheep!

The race in Isle of Wight had 48 participants: 95% of them were residents and only 38 of them finished the course within the 6.5-hour time limit. Surprisingly, I was the only participant running for a charity, and at times, I had only sheep for company! That race was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but easily one of my biggest achievements.

Injury…

I injured myself during a race in Nottingham, which resulted in a strained calf and stretched iliotibial hand (ITB – ouch!). Luckily it wasn’t too serious, but the injury made the next race a big challenge. I used a walk/run strategy, and it was the most painful run I’ve ever experienced. The good news is that I’m on the mend and still happily running!

Supporters

I am extremely grateful for the support I was given during my challenge and from everyone who donated to my page. Knowing that more people – I’ve reached about 600 through this challenge – are now aware of ataxia, makes me happy. I am so thankful for my girlfriend Terri, who came and supported me at every event; she even ran the odd lap with me! Thank you for your unwavering support Terri, I love you very much!

Spreading the word

I wanted to get the word out about my challenge, to make as big of a splash as possible, so I sent numerous emails to colleagues; posted on Instagram and Facebook, and kick-started some word-of-mouth chat about it. My family, friends and employer also kindly helped to spread the word… we reached out to a lot of people!

Looking forward

Thanks to this challenge, I’ve realised what I’m capable of, both physically and mentally, and know that I can definitely achieve more than a marathon every month. I actually found myself feeling a bit lost when I didn’t have a race to look forward to, especially now that I’ve finished. So, I’ve decided to not stop there! My main goal for 2019 is to complete a half Ironman in September, and then a full Ironman in 2020.

I’m ecstatic that my 12-in-12 challenge has raised £3,452 (and counting), soaring past my original target of £2,000. I’d like to thank everyone at Ataxia UK for their very helpful and motivational support over the last 12 months. There is still time to donate to my page if anyone can spare – thank you!

You can donate to James’ page here: www.ataxia.org.uk/appeal/12in2018