Pushing Limits & Raising Awareness: George's 100-Mile Run in 30 hours for Crohn's & Colitis UK

In a world where challenges come in all shapes and sizes, there are those whose resilience shines through, inspiring us to push our limits and defy the odds. Meet George – a man with a mission, living with Crohn's Disease, who's about to embark on an extraordinary journey.

George was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease when he was 18 during his A-Levels. There were moments when even the thought of exercise seemed like a distant dream, let alone tacking on a daunting 100-mile run within 30 hours! Yet, George has taken on this huge challenge not only to raise funds for Crohn's & Colitis UK but he also hopes to shed light on the harsh realities faced by those living with these conditions. He knows firsthand the toll it can take on mental health, which is why he's determined to show others in the same boat that there's hope on the horizon, and while things may be tough now, they can get better again.

Read further to hear of George's extreme training regime, and the story behind why he's undertook such a monumental challenge. 

If you want to donate to George, you can do so by visiting his JustGiving page.

To follow his journey more closely you can follow his Instagram page.

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease shortly after my 18th birthday. Fortunately, unlike many others, my diagnosis journey was quick. I had started getting intense stomach cramps in September of my final year of A-levels. Having been to Reading Festival in late August, I wrongly put it down to a diet of kebabs and decided to eat very healthily, eating all of the fruit and veg in sight. Unfortunately this made it worse, and I got to the point where I began eating less and less (as it was the only way to avoid the pain). I lost a dangerous amount of weight.

During this time, I visited the GP who was unsure what was wrong and suggested a food diary and a 'simple diet'. I ate nothing but boiled rice and drank fizzy lucozade for a couple of weeks with no improvement before heading back to the GP's. This led to me being referred to the clinical decisions unit at the local hospital.

This was an unnerving experience as they effectively did not know what was wrong but were in agreement that whatever it was, it wasn't good. Each morning in hospital, someone would come round and undertake the same tests, before conceding they did not know what was wrong and referring me up the seniority ladder in the hospital. I felt like I was in an episode of House.


Living with Crohn's Disease

After a few days of this, during the morning observations a new doctor asked whether I minded if some people observed. I agreed and suddenly the curtain was drawn back to reveal about seven people. The same tests were performed, before they said I should have exploratory surgery and, as I had turned 18 a few days before, I could consent for the surgery myself, which I did.

My Mum was certainly not very impressed when she arrived for visiting hours to be told I was heading into surgery soon! In truth, it was a very scary experience. I was dangerously underweight and even the doctors in a Clinical Decisions team did not know what was wrong with me.

I had the surgery and they told me they suspected Crohn's Disease which was then confirmed with a colonoscopy. Having an answer was a huge relief, but the word disease was terrifying. It was also simply the start of a new journey. Learning about what Crohn’s Disease was, and then working with the doctors to try and get the flare up under control. This led to 16 tablets a day (a combination of steroids and immune-suppressants) which ultimately failed before I moved to Biopics which have helped immensely.

Fortunately, I was able to return to school and I managed to finish my A-levels and go to University the following year. However, I have now realised that it would be years before I would finally accept that I had Crohn's from a mental health perspective, and not see myself as less of a person as a result of the diagnosis.

Naturally, the first question people ask me is 'Why are you doing this?'. I suppose what inspired me to take part in this challenge was firstly, I wanted to let anyone with Crohn's or Colitis who is going through a flare up, or at the start of their diagnosis journey or just feeling a bit down, know that a diagnosis doesn't mean ‘the end’. We can all still do crazy things! I also wanted to raise awareness for Crohn's and Colitis generally, and hopefully this challenge can do that in a small way.

Additionally, I wanted to prove the first point to myself. I have often struggled with the self-worth side of things following my diagnosis 14 years ago, and I wanted to remind myself that having Crohn’s does not define me.

I ran a 54-mile Ultra Marathon for Crohn's & Colitis UK about two years ago, and I told everyone afterwards how hard it was and that I had no interest in running further. Thinking back, those close to me all said I'd end up trying to do another one one day. I guess they were right!

This particular challenge is actually an event which isn't too far from where I live. I fully blame Adrian (who I work with) for this as he was the one who found the event and shared it with me, knowing full well that I wouldn't be able to resist a challenge... I signed up the next day which was back in January 2023.

There's been a whole lot of preparation and training involved! With a challenge like this, there isn't really a 'how to guide' so I have been making it up as I go along in truth. The main and obvious thing is that I have been doing A LOT of running! And if anyone is interested (or can give me advice on training!!), they can follow my journey on Instagram via george.runs.100.

The event itself is in September 2024 and I stared training for it in June 2023. As we sit here in February 2024, I have run over 900 miles as part of my training and there will be many, many more miles coming up in the next 8 months!! 

I think the main challenge will be the mental toughness. The ability to keep moving when everything is going to be telling me to stop. I think this is a particularly tough thing to train for, but I am hoping that by having a great support network around me on the day, and breaking the distance down into chunks, I’ll be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

As I've been pounding the pavement in the cold and rain on my training runs, thoughts have been swirling in my mind about the messages I want to share during this challenge and the awareness I hope to raise.

To those living with Crohn's or Colitis, I want to hopefully show that although things may be tough right now, there will be better times again and that you're not alone. If I can attempt something like this, then any of us can.

To those without Crohn's or Colitis, I'd like to raise awareness. Both in regards to the symptoms and living with Crohn's or Colitis post diagnosis, but also the potential mental health impacts it can have on an individual. The mental health side is certainly the side I have struggled with most.

I think it is really difficult for people to be truly understanding of, or empathetic with, people who have invisible diseases, and I'm hoping that by undertaking this challenge I can raise awareness in a small way.

If you were to ask me what I'd say to someone who's considering taking on a similar challenge, I’d say embrace the unknown, believe in yourself and go for it! I believe we can all do far much more than we realise, and that we are all capable of achieving great things. So, if you have found something you are passionate about and the challenge excites you or even scares you a little bit then go for it!

Also if anyone out there is considering anything similar let me know, as I'll be doing a lot more training runs in the coming months and would love some company!

Want to donate to George's epic fundraising challenge?

Every day, people are diagnosed with Crohn's or Colitis. With no known cure, your donation ensures that we can provide crucial support for all those affected. Join us in making a difference today.


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