A GROUP of Sheffield fundraisers is aiming to ‘run around the world’ this year.
Eight people who live in the city are in a team of 20 - two are from Canada, one from Belgium and the others from other parts of the UK - aiming to clock up almost 25,000 miles, the circumference of the earth, in aid of the Huntington’s Disease Association.
It won’t be one long marathon, though.
The distance is being divided by 20, and each runner is aiming to cover 24 miles a week, each and every week.
Sometimes they will be running up the miles on their own, sometimes they will be taking part in marathons and other races, but they share the goal of helping research into a neuro-degenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems.
One member of ‘Team Awesome’ is Cat Taylor, aged 27, a Huntington’s Disease research assistant for genetics, and another is Joe Richardson, aged 29, whose wife, Mary, also 29, has started showing the symptoms of Huntington’s Disease.
The idea of the Circumference Challenge came from 28-year-old Dan Dungworth, an assistant manager at a storage company, who lives at Kelham Island, and has been a keen runner for one-a-half years.
“Last year, 2012, quite a lot of my friends did an challenge to run 2012 miles. I was trying to think what to do this year. I didn’t think doing 2013 in 2013 was imaginative enough and, randomly, I just thought ‘How big is the circumference of the earth?’ and is it possible to do that.
“We were going to divide the distance by 15, but 1,800 miles each would have been too much.”
If people fell ill - “I was ill recently” - it could be too much of an effort to get back on track, said Dan.
“Dividing by 20 seemed doable. Then I spoke to Joe Richardson, whose wife has got Huntingdon’s Disease and who does a lot for charity, and it carried on from there.”
Cat Taylor, who works for Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and lives in Hillsborough, said: “I’m really excited about this challenge because it’s getting people together from all over the world to highlight Huntington’s Disease and raise its profile.
“There is no cure for Huntington’s Disease so it’s crucial we focus our efforts on trying to find ways to make people’s lives better and ultimately discover a cure.
“It’s going to be quite an effort to keep up 24 miles every week and there’ll be some big stumbling blocks along the way, but I’m determined to get through it and raise as much money as possible.”
Around one in every 10,000 people are affected by the condition, which leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems. Cat helps to monitor adult patients who come in for both observational and drug trials at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
“HD affects whole families but our patients are fantastic and many are happy to take part on trials to help us find a cure,” said Cat.
Other Sheffield based runners are Mike Delap, aged 28, who works in travel, Luke Johnson, aged 28, who works in food development, Kris King, aged 25, who owns a gym, Hannah Shepherd, aged 23, who works in personal training, Kelvin Ara, aged 33, a civil servant, and Richard Beever, aged 23, a personal trainer.
Many the runners will get together during the year to building up their miles in organised events.
“Quite a few of us are doing the Nottingham half marathon, and almost all the Sheffield half marathon, apart from the person in Canada who will go on a run at the same time,” said Dan.
The target is £15,000 and already £3,500 has been committed.
Dan has no doubt that they will rise to the challenge: “We’ll do it.”
* Donations can be made through Just Giving - Team Awesome dan can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.