Fundraising adventures

2017 Brighton marathon - Parkinson's UK
In my last year of university I decided to tick off a 'bucket list' goal - to run a marathon. I was living in Brighton at the time, so the 2017 Brighton marathon was ideal. Given the chance, I would have taken a non-charity entry. I had never fundraised before and didn't want extra commitments before my final exams. However, the marathon was four months away, and there were no such entries left. This left me two options. To wait till next year and get a non-charity place or to stop being so selfish and get on with it. 

A number of charities were offering places in return for a minimum fundraising target. Our family is closely affected by Parkinson’s disease. I also had learnt about the disease throughout my psychology degree. I decided to run for Parkinson's UK, who are the biggest Parkinson's research funder in Europe and also provide a variety of support strategies for people with Parkinson's disease.

So, I created a justgiving page, ran 1058937120974 laps of Preston Park and completed the marathon in 3 hours and 27 minutes (shameless excuse – it was the hottest Brighton marathon ever recorded!). The Parkinson's UK support team were flawless. They provided advice before the marathon which was vital for the rookies like me, and would appear at regular intervals throughout the run to cheer us on. With the help of the Parkinson's team I raised a total of £813.51 for Parkinson's UK. 


16 miles in, before things got really painful

London-Venice-London bike ride - Parkinson's UK
While procrastinating in our third year of university my housemate Chris and I decided the coming summer was high-time for an adventure. We had a one month window before our graduation in July that year. Some quick calculations provided the distance we thought we could ride in one month, and a browse on Google maps revealed the places which fell within our distance radius. “How abouuuuuuut, Venice?” I offered. It was beautiful, it had pizza, and we would have to cross a swathe of mountain ranges which were challenging enough to sate our masochistic sense of adventure, especially as Chris hadn’t ridden a bike in four years.

We were very keen to use the expedition to continue to raise awareness and money for Parkinson's UK. Chris is also closely affected by the disease, and I was well versed in the fundraising process, having run the Brighton marathon only one month before. Furthermore, I found fundraising for the Brighton marathon to be a rewarding and motivating extra dimension to the challenge, when times get tough it helps to have these motivations. We purchased Parkinson's UK cycling tops, and sent letters, emails and messages to our friends and families. 

Chris suggested that we fly out to Venice, then ride back to London, alleviating the need to book flights in advance and stick to a pre-defined schedule.

I some respects I am lazy, in others, I am not. I realised I would rather cycle to Venice and meet Chris there than work out the logistics of putting my bike on a plane. More importantly, it would also be an adventure in itself. I had been bike touring once with my father before several years earlier, and had never cycled more than thirty miles by myself. I cycled for 200km each day and reached Venice in 9 ¼ days. 

We had two days in Venice to organise equipment and ourselves for the return journey, and re-vamp our fundraising efforts. 

We had initially planned to head south-west towards the south coast of France to St Tropez, then turn north and cycle up the spine of France through the Massif Central. We miscalculated our timings and eventually took a more northerly route, cycling west through the  Po Valley and over the Alps via the Col du Mont Cenis. We arrived in Brighton on the 20th July 2017, 19 days after leaving Venice.

Our fundraising efforts raised a total £890.

Here are some images from the ride.

On the way to Venice - a campsite overlooking Edolo, Italy

And now back again...

Bleary eyed at 5.45am - Leaving Venice 

Chris's cycling baptism of fire

Half way up the Italian side of the Col du Mont Cenis

Italy? Completed it mate.

Victorious in Paris

29 days later... Back in the UK


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