Over the past three years Sharon Dawson has taken on an incredible variety of challenge events from hiking to power walking ultra-marathons in a bid to raise awareness and funds for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT). Here is Sharon’s story:

“My Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2015. It was something totally new to me and my family - the unknown. I am a great believer in raising money for causes that affect us. My Dad asked for any money I raised to go towards research into Parkinson's, hence why I chose to support The Cure Parkinson's Trust. My Dad was facing a HUGE challenge, so it was only right I push myself further than I'd pushed myself before.”

To mark her 50th Birthday in 2017 Sharon joined the Long Distance Walking Association taking on a variety of hiking challenges throughout the year.

“The weekend after my 50th birthday I completed the newest Threshold event, ‘Race to the Tower’, a 53 mile hike from Stroud to Broadway Tower along the Cotswold way (pictured below). Every hill was followed by another hill and the finish line was 3 miles up hill. I completed this challenge at 3am and told my Dad I would never do it again!

The following weekend saw me in the Brecon Beacons completing ‘The Fan Dance’ with The Special Forces Experience, following the route used by the SAS during their training. This challenge had a time limit which I completed with half an hour to spare.

The weekend after that I was back in Arundel, West Sussex for ‘Race to the King’ (pictured below), a scenic ultra-marathon along the South Downs Way finishing at Winchester Cathedral which  I was pleased to complete in 19.5 hours, as I wasn’t feeling well.

Three weekends later I was back again for ‘Race to the Stones’, a 100km route to the historic Avebury Stone Circle which I completed in 22.5 hours (pictured below). I also completed the Great North Run, Newcastle in September and the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October.”

In 2018 Sharon went on to set herself the fantastic challenge of completing 12 runs over 9 months.

“2018 saw me taking on some new events from the Brighton Half Marathon in February to the Charnwood Marathon in March, the Coventry Round in April and a 5k Inflatable Obstacle Course Race in June. Despite saying I would never take on Race to the Tower again, there I was at the start line having forgotten how many relentless hills there were in the challenge. After the event I even posted on my Facebook page that I would not be participating in this ever again, once is acceptable, twice is madness but I did manage to knock 1 hour off my previous time, which was great!

Two weeks later I was ready for Race to the King, this is my favourite event and I managed to complete it in 18 hours this time. Unfortunately, 10 days later my back went into spasm and despite the help of my physio I couldn’t participate in Race to the Stones. I was however able to conquer the Great North Run and Royal Parks Half Marathon (pictured below) later in the year.

Despite having put it in writing twice that I would never take on the Race to the Tower again, I find myself signed up for a third time to all three Threshold events in 2019 along with their newest trail challenge in May, a 53km hike around the Chilterns and along the Thames Path finishing at Windsor Race Course. I took part in the Vitality Big Half in London in March (pictured below) and am planning on conquering some half and full marathons throughout the rest of the year but due to back problems I am taking things a little easier.

When people hear I take part in ultra-marathons people automatically think that I run and are surprised when I say I power walk them. Initially they think I take the easy option, but when I explain that I do them straight through and that I can be walking for up to 23 hours, except for check points, they realise it is far from an easy option. I choose to walk because in 1988 I was told I would use walking sticks for the rest of my life due to an injury when I was in the Women’s Royal Air Force and I know that running will aggravate this injury and could lead to me using those sticks again which would stop me from participating in any of these events in support of CPT. To date I have raised £4,655 for this amazing cause and will be adding to this with my events this year.”

CPT would like to say a huge 'thank you' to Sharon for her monumental efforts over the past three years, for her wonderful support and truly magnificent fundraising efforts! To read more of Sharon’s story or to support her fundraising please visit her fundraising page.

If you feel inspired by Sharon’s story and would like to take on your own running or walking challenge for CPT you can search the many fantastic running events taking place across the UK here. Alternatively please contact George or call 020 7487 3892 to discuss your fundraising ideas and find out how we can support you.