Catherine Wakefield is our fundraiser of the month because even MS cannot stop her completing her My MS Marathon challenge on her purple wheels of steel
I have been living with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) since I was diagnosed in 2012, which has in recent years developed into secondary progressive MS. One of the most frustrating symptoms for me has been the deterioration of my walking and mobility, which led me to purchase a purple rollator in 2017 to help me walk, I call it my purple wheels of steel.
About a month into lockdown, I was starting to experience cabin fever, and the realisation hit me that if I didn’t get off my sofa I may soon become welded to it! It seemed as good a time as any to get out with my purple wheels and attempt to stretch my legs and get moving… which I did! I started by walking a little lap of the village where I live, just around the village green and back as my daily exercise – it was hard, but I managed, albeit with a few trips and rests along the way! I took my 17-year-old son, Tom, with me (who’d been released early from A-levels) in case I had a fall, and we would often joke that as we no longer had a pet dog, he had to put up with taking his mother for a walk instead!
At around the same time, the marvellous Captain (later Sir) Tom started his amazing fundraising feat for the NHS, doing 100 laps of his garden with his rollator before his 100th birthday. This spurred me on, as although I’m no spring chicken, I’m only slightly more than half Sir Tom’s age, and if he could do it at 100, surely I could manage a few laps around the village green!
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Helen, who also lives with MS, put up a Facebook post advertising the My MS Marathon, an event raising funds for MS-UK’s counselling service and encouraging people to take part by thinking up an individual challenge based around the number 26 (as in the number of miles run in a marathon). Earlier that day, when my son and I had been slowly trundling around the village green, I’d asked him to measure the distance we covered on his phone, just out of curiosity, and it had been 1.4km (I did ask him to tell me in miles, but apparently he and his phone are too young to deal in miles, and can only cope with kilometres!). It got me wondering how many days it would take to walk 26 miles. So after I converted our daily distance to miles (my phone is older and understands the language of miles), which turned out to be 0.87, I multiplied it by 31 (fortunately the fundraiser was taking place in July, rather than February!) and by good fortune the sum was just over 26 and a half… so if I did my daily lap every day in July, without any days off, I could smash the marathon distance. It seemed too much of a coincidence not to act on, and before I knew it I’d set up a fundraising page, and committed to doing a marathon over 31 days in July… eek!
While I understand my marathon will be conducted at a much slower pace and will take much longer than those of more athletic participants, and there will certainly be a few trips along the way, I am feeling quite excited and counting down the days till the 1st July! Shortly before my MS diagnosis I completed the Great North Run, my first half marathon, I didn’t know then it would take me ten years to progress on to a marathon, or that I’d be walking rather than running, but I’ve got there in the end! (Fingers crossed!)
To make a donation to Catherine's My MS Marathon challenge visit my-ms-marathon.everydayhero.com/uk/catherine-18.
To start your own My MS Marathon challenge, visit mymsmarathon.ms-uk.org.