Running the Great North Run for the Alicia Boparai Foundation

I am running the Great North Run this year.

For the first time ever. At the age of 45.

Following back surgery in 2014. And a heart attack last year. While training for the 2018 Great North Run.

Am I mad?

The start line of the great North Run

Well, there’s nothing like confronting your own mortality to force you to face the fact that you are getting old, you’re putting on weight and you’re not as fit as you were.

I got married later in life. It’s entirely possible that my own children will too. I want to support my children through their own wedding day. I might be 70 years old by then, or even older. I want to stay as healthy and mobile as possible for that eventuality.

The Tyne Bridge during the Great North Run

That’s why I train three times per week, regardless of how hectic my schedule is, and how little sleep I’ve had. My motivation is visualising being an active part of my children’s lives as they get married and have children of their own.

But there is another reason I’m running the Great North Run this year.

A woman, no more than a girl really, who never made it as far as marrying or starting a family.

Alicia, the same name as my wife.

Alicia Boparai

It began at the age of 20 when she had a routine operation to remove an ovarian cyst. Due to complications, one of her ovaries had to be extracted.

A year later, she was diagnosed with Sertoli Leydig Cell, a rare form of ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery to remove a 16cm tumour from her abdomen. She also endured three months of chemotherapy.

She was given the all clear and resumed her physiotherapy studies at Northumbria University.

But soon after, Alicia was back in hospital to remove further tumours. A hysterectomy followed. 6 weeks of radiation therapy. She would never have children.

The disease metastasised to her liver. Doctors tried to cut out the tumours in a gruelling 8 hour operation.

The cancer spread and Alicia died at the age of 22.

Manjit, Alicia’s mother, my friend, set up a charitable foundation in memory of Alicia. It’s a registered charity set up to raise funds for children and young people affected by life limiting illnesses.

Their ultimate goal is to raise enough funds to buy a holiday cottage that can be used by families with very limited time together to create precious and lasting memories.

They also make donations to other charities that provide services to young people affected by such illnesses.

So I’m running the Great North Run in Alicia’s memory, and raising funds for her charity, the Alicia Boparai Foundation.

Please click the button below to donate.

The finish line at the Great North Run