This is a guest blog by Dementia UK supporter Anna Mauremootoo on why she and her best friend Abbie are running the London Marathon for families facing dementia.
“It’s safe to say that neither of us decided to take on the London Marathon because of our love for running. Anyone who has spent more than 20 minutes with us in the last six months is probably sick of us complaining about training.
“But we’ve both experienced the impact dementia can have. I lost my nan in December 2015, who sadly experienced dementia in the latter years of her life. Abbie’s grandad was very suddenly given a diagnosis of dementia and he lost all memory of who he and his family were.
“A lot of people think that dementia is just about memory loss, but it’s not; it can affect a person’s behaviour and cause confusion and disorientation, among other things. And isn’t just tough on the person experiencing it – it’s tough on the people who love them too.
“Anyone who has had to face dementia knows how difficult it can be. For both of us, our grandparents have been a hugely influential part of our lives. To see them lose their independence and watch their frustration as this happened is heart-breaking.
“So, the sole purpose of us running the Marathon is to raise as much money as possible for Dementia UK – the medal at the end is just a nice bonus.
“The chances of both of us getting a ballot place were slim. Whether it was fate or by chance that we did, we’re both very grateful. There have been so many times, particularly at the start of our training, when we’ve wanted to bail on the early morning runs. We’re both secretly hoping the other one cancels, but don’t want to be the one that lets the other one down.
“We’ve been best friends for ten years and there’s been a lot that’s tested our friendship, but this is by far the biggest challenge that we’ve ever had to tackle together. In many ways, our training has been like a microcosm of our friendship. There have been highs, lows, tears, tantrums, laughter and – for consistency – the whole thing will end with us in the pub.
“There aren’t many people you can spend four hours with, doing something you don’t enjoy, which causes you pain, but somehow we manage to pull each other through it.
“It helps that we both understand how important it is to finish this marathon in honour of our grandparents. We’re both fortunate to have had close relationships with our nan and grandad, but that makes it all the harder to see them face dementia. Luckily, we understand each other’s feelings and we’ve both taken turns as a shoulder to cry on.
“Dementia UK is such a fantastic organisation. That’s why we drag ourselves out of bed at 6am on Saturdays and hit the roads, come rain or shine (and once even snow), and why our feet are blistered and our muscles ache.
“Neither of us are natural runners, so the Marathon seems like a daunting task. But we’ll get each other through it because that’s what best friends do.”
Feeling inspired by Anna’s blog? Why not take on a challenge and help us support families all over the UK who are facing dementia.