Adam Ferrier’s New Year resolution was to run 500 miles in January to help a friend who has a rare and incurable illness.
The 36-year-old computer programmer and teacher, who lives in Crookes, faced an even stiffer challenge when his schedule was interrupted by an achilles injury and bronchitis.
But he was determined to reach the end of the road to help raise up to £10,000 to ease the plight of Olga McDonnell, who has a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Adam clocked up 441 miles by January 31 (only one person in the UK, five in the world, running further over the month), running the equivalent of four full marathons in three days at the end. He had completed the remaining miles by Monday.
“I felt so strongly about Olga’s condition that I have really pushed myself to the limit.”
Olga, aged 36, is the wife of Adam’s former schoolfriend, Matt, 38, and now finds herself almost completely immobile. She is in a wheelchair and in constant pain, needing round-the-clock assistance with everything from getting in and out of bed, to getting dressed and preparing food.
At one stage, Adam was running 60 miles a day on the streets of Sheffield.
“I was running through the rain and the cold, but at the end of it all I could rest. For the past four years, Olga and other people with the condition can’t. Every day is worse and more painful. They don’t know what the end is. The medical profession has no way of treating it other than to deal with the pain.”
The target of £10,000 is designed to allow Olga to attend a residential course at a centre for specialist analysis and pain therapy.
Matt met Olga when they worked at Sheffield technology company SDL and they used to live in Hunters Bar. They moved to Spain in 2007, planning to return to Sheffield until her health deteriorated.
A further blow came when Olga started feeling pain on exposure to light, which has severely restricted her ability to leave the house.
So far £6,345 has been raised through the FundRazr website. SDL colleagues have helped. “The fundraising has been amazing for them,” said Adam, who used to teach at King Edward VII School. “There is the mental effect of knowing that all these people are supporting them.
“One of my best school friends was in one of the lowest places I had ever seen him. Now Matt is talking positively and is hopeful. I also see it as an amazing example of what social networking can do. You can make a difference if you get up and do something.”
Olga has posted online her gratitude to Adam, SDL colleagues and her friends in Sheffield: “I could really feel I was in Sheffield once more.”
Meanwhile, Adam, who has previously run full marathons and half marathons and 10k races, can put his feet up for a while. “People were sick of seeing me on Fulwood Road, red raw and in a black top, listening to music.”