Undertaking one ultra-marathon is impressive but one just wasn’t enough for a University of Suffolk member of staff who is undertaking all seven UK based challenges.
Chloe Sage, a Disability & Wellbeing Adviser within Student Services, has so far completed four of the events, each 100km (62 miles) long, for Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer's Society.
Starting in May, Chloe will finish all the challenges in September with the Thames Path Challenge. So far, she has completed the Isle of Wight Challenge, the London to Brighton Challenge, the Cotswold Way Challenge and the Jurassic Coast Challenge. There are less than ten people in the UK this year signed up for all seven challenges.
Chloe said, “I’m raising money for Cancer Research UK in memory of my Grandad, Stanley John Bezant who died of pancreatic cancer when I was 7 years old. The third challenge, the Cotswold Way Challenge, started on 30 June, which would have been Grandad’s birthday so it seemed the perfect challenge to be doing in his memory. I’m also raising vital funds for Alzheimer's Society in memory of my Nan, Velma Elsie Bezant who passed away two years ago. She had vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Nan joined us on family holidays in the Isle of Wight, so that challenge was the perfect challenge to do in her memory.”
Chloe has overcome many obstacles throughout her life as she explains, “When I was 18 years old, I was taken seriously ill with Henoch Schonlein Purpura vasculitis. I was on steroids and immunosuppressant medication for many years and had times when I had to use a wheelchair. I had a stroke-like attack in 2000, which affected my short-term memory and left me with permanent pins and needles down my entire right side. Having experienced personal cognitive changes is another reason why I am raising money for Alzheimer’s Society as they fund research into all forms of dementia, including vascular dementia. Their researchers are investigating a wide variety of areas related to dementia, whether it is the underlying causes of the condition, how to improve diagnosis, providing the best care or searching for a cure.”
Before becoming ill Chloe was studying a Mathematics degree at Leicester University. Her illness led to her pursuing her love of art and she graduated from Suffolk College in 2007 with a First Class (Hons) Fine Art/ History and Theory of Visual Art degree.
“If you had told me 19 years ago that I would one day be able to take on the challenge of walking 100km (62.1 miles), I would never have believed it to be possible. I feel very lucky to now feel able to take on these challenges so that I can raise funds for charities close to my heart.”
Chloe undertakes the events in one go, walking through the night aided by just a head torch “Often the routes aren’t lit and are rubble paths so the terrain is quite difficult to manage but you don’t ever feel alone. Each event has around 2,000 participants and although I’m doing the challenge by myself I’ve been meeting amazing people along the way.”
Chloe saw the Thames Path Challenge advertised last year but unsure she would be able to manage it, she started with the Shine Night Walk (full marathon), a 26.2-mile route for Cancer Research UK. “After completing the Shine Night Walk I knew I had it in me to do more so I signed up for all seven Ultra-Marathons there and then, I have always loved a challenge!.”
“My family and friends have been really supportive. For each event, I have been posting hourly updates on Facebook so they can track my progress. My fundraising aim is £2,500, which will be split between the two charities. If anyone can donate and support my efforts I’d be really grateful.”
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