Couple Reach Half Way Point Of 5,000 Mile Challenge

Couple Reach Half Way Point Of 5,000 Mile Challenge

Heart Research UK - Tim FlemingA husband and wife from Worthing have hit the half-way point in their 5,000 mile running challenge. Keith and Catherine Fowler, decided to take on the epic challenge after the sudden death of Catherine’s father from aortic dissection. Catherine’s father, Tim Fleming, died from an aortic dissection – a condition where the main artery from the heart ruptures and which can be life-threatening if left untreated. In some cases, patients may require emergency aortic arch surgery to repair the aorta, which is the largest blood vessel in the body. It affects three to four people in every 100,000 every year in the UK. Tim was just 69 years old at the time.

As the pair crossed their respective finish lines, Keith, 37, in the 50km Weald Ultra marathon and Catherine, 39, in the London Vitality 10,000, they crossed another threshold – reaching the halfway point in their challenge.

Keith has completed four out of his eight physical challenges, clocking up more than 120 hours of jogging over 95 different runs.  Describing his experience so far, he said: “We are raising awareness and funds for the condition that took Tim’s life so suddenly and unexpectedly. I have never done so many marathons in a single year and the short time between some of the runs has been challenging, but this is an epic challenge for an epic man.”

Unfortunately Catherine suffered an injury prior to the Silverstone half-marathon but still determined, nevertheless took on the challenge. As a result of the injury, she was ruled out of the Virgin London Marathon earlier this year. Catherine was delighted and relived that she was able to complete the London 10,000 last month (May).

Heart Research UK - Catherine FowlerNot one to miss an opportunity, Catherine persuaded Simon Nash, a member of a team of first aiders and paramedics at the London 10.000 Vitality, to make a short video to help raise awareness of aortic dissection. This short awareness message has reached over 60,000 people and the video has been viewed by 11,000 people.

Catherine said: “I was pretty devastated to drop out of London this year, but I’ll be running the London Marathon 2017 – and what a fantastic run to mark the end of our 5,000 mile challenge.  The atmosphere will be electric and the support will be immense.  I know that dad will be with me every step of the way!”

The couple’s 5000 mile challenge will see them take on 11 Marathons and Ultra marathons between them.  At the half-way mark they both admit that the challenge has been extremely tough.  Not just on their legs, but also in the logistics of juggling training and competing with everyday life. However, their desire to raise awareness of aortic dissection, its symptoms and the risk factors associated with it, continues to propel them forward.

Catherine adds:  “We are doing this to make something good come from all this pain and sadness. I know we can make a difference and I know we can save lives. I only wish it could have been my father’s.”

Keith and Catherine have also been buoyed by all of the support that they have received so far from family, friends and even strangers across the globe – with sponsorship coming from across the UK, Sweden, Hong Kong, Ireland and America. They have raised nearly £3,500 towards their £5,000 target – a pound for each mile covered.

Heart Research UK - LogoThis sponsorship money will be given to national charity, Heart Research UK to help toward the cost of hosting a Masterclass in aortic arch surgery.  Through the Masterclass, heart surgeons from across the UK will learn new skills from experts in aortic arch surgery and gain unique hands-on experience of aortic arch surgery. Above all, patients across the country will benefit as more surgeons will have the expertise to carry out these life-saving operations in their own hospitals.

The first Global Aortic Dissection Awareness Day – 19 September will raise awareness of aortic dissection across the globe. A day prior to this, Catherine and Keith will be taking on the Richmond Half Marathon, with their children, Clodagh (7) and Paddy (5) taking on the mini-mile the same day. The race takes place in Richmond Park near where Tim lived and one of his favourite London parks.

A national pub quiz fundraiser as well as a music shindig is also in planning to take place later this September.