explorer who completed a marathon challenge: Inspired by a promise he made to his late grandfather to fight for a cure for dementia, an explorer has completed seven marathons in the most remote parts of all seven continents.
Louis Alexander started the challenge in October last year and has run marathons in places including Morocco’s Agafai Desert, Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert, and Alaska. He completed this feat on December 13 at the South Pole.
The inspiration behind the challenge was Alexander’s grandfather, Captain Rick Taylor, who served in the British Army for 38 years and died of dementia in 2019.
Mr Alexander, 24, who lives in London, told the PA news agency: “At my grandfather’s funeral, when I was 19, I had the great privilege of giving the eulogy … and there I promised to support the fight against dementia. “The day we find a way to cure.”
While running marathons, he carried a letter calling for the government to invest £16m into improving dementia diagnosis.
“It’s a long shot, but I think it’s possible,” he said.
The ultimate reason I ran seven marathons on seven continents is that this is a global challenge for a global cause and I wanted to emphasize that dementia is in the most remote parts of the world.
“Now I’m back home because it’s time for the UK to lead the way to help fight for proper treatment and diagnosis.”
He added that running with the letter made him feel like “my grandfather was with me every step of the way.”
The promise I made to him when I was 19 changed my life because my whole focus changed.
“Carrying this letter, strangely, brought almost everyone together and was a good reminder.
“Seven marathons on seven continents would be nothing without this letter.”
He said it felt “amazing” to have completed the challenge.
“This project has truly been the greatest journey of my life,” he said.
“I’ve been really lucky to see some of the best wildlife in the world and meet the most amazing people.”
He said the last marathon in Antarctica “quickly became more of a survival challenge than a running challenge”.
“When the wind hit us and we were cornered and not protected by the mountains, I felt the sting,” he said.
“The snow got to the point where it was almost like sand and it was very painful, and when it hit the right side of my body, it burned and I thought my internal organs might bleed.
“It was brutal, so crossing that finish line was a huge relief.”
The scenery was “incredible,” he added — “we were running next to the Ellsworth Mountains.”
He said deserts are the “toughest” places to run a marathon, calling the Amazon and Australian marathons “unique.”
“I had the great privilege of participating in the native land of the Quichua community, and it took three months of negotiations to be able to leave the tribe,” he said.
He has raised nearly £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which he says has been “fantastic”.
“It means the world has that encouragement when the going gets tough and you’re in a snowstorm in Antarctica or a rainstorm in the Amazon,” he said.
He has also launched a digital petition which he hopes will get 10,000 signatures to put more pressure on the government to invest more money in dementia diagnosis.
He hopes to personally deliver the letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in January as he received a letter of appreciation from his office a few days ago.
More information about Mr Alexander’s marathons and his fundraising page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningthesevencontinents?.
Mr Alexander’s petition can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/651956.