Raising Awareness of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in Europe
IiMER has a great many supporters who have given so much of themselves to help us all make a difference.
Mike Harley is one of these - somebody who has helped the charity as well as all people with ME and their families.
Mike has been raising awareness of ME and raising funds for Invest in ME Research’s biomedical research fund with a unique challenge that he set himself.
In 2015 Mike began an amazing venture – a challenge to run a marathon in all 28 EU countries.
Mike decided to do this because one of his oldest friends, Ian, had been affected by ME for over 9 years and had been unable to work or lead a normal life - a great example of friendship.
In itself, this venture was a huge challenge.
When Mike started he had not intended to face another two challenges. Thanks to Brexit the UK was removed from the plan to run in 28 countries in the EU. And then came the global pandemic that altered everyone’s plans and lives.
Yet Mike has overcome these additional challenges and this Sunday, 27th March 2022, his challenge comes to an end with the final marathon being run in Rome, Italy.
Apart from raising funds and awareness for the charity’s biomedical research and Centre of Excellence proposal Mike also embarked on the cause of helping to raise awareness of ME all across Europe. He did this by writing about conditions in each country for people with ME - by interviewing people with ME as he visited each country.
This provides a valuable insight into problems occurring locally. This is also helping the European ME Alliance (EMEA) in its work.
Mike's first challenge was the Prague marathon in 2015.
Look at the table below to see all of the events that Mike has run in this challenge.
As we now come to the final event Mike has recently been featured in the news.
Quadram Institute in Norwich Research Park, the centre where most of the IiMER funded research has been taking place, recently
featured Mike in this article – https://quadram.ac.uk/blogs/26-marathons-down-just-one-more-to-go-for-me-fundraiser-mike/
Mike was also interviewed on BBC Radio Bristol by John Darvall (scroll to 2.10) –
Mike has taken the flag to the left on each of his trips around Europe.
And this is not the only occasion Mike has supported his friend in this way.
Previously Mike, with a group of friends, took part in a very different challenge for the charity (92 football grounds in 92 hrs) managing to reach over 10 million people (through TV, Press and the football community) and raising nearly £5K for the charity's funded research.
Throughout this project Mike met and talked to ME sufferers and their families and this has had a very profound effect on his decision to attempt this new challenge.
And something that the charity feels that all ought to be known about this amazing venture.
Mike has a young family. In all of this - the planning, the gruelling training, the travel and time away from his full time job and home,
marathons themselves and the recovery periods - he has been supported by his family.
Spending seven years on this challenge would inevitably take its toll on anyone. So one needs to appreciate the support and participation of his wife Cat, and young daughter Lucy.
Another point - Mike has steadfastly refused to accept financial support from the charity in this endeavour.
This means that he and his family have borne the entire costs of travel, hotels, race entry fees and transport for all of these years.
Mike started this to help his friend.
He has ended up helping far more people.
He has displayed an empathy for the plight of people with ME and their families and spoken out and demonstrated his support for this community.
His tireless efforts and his determination and tenacity has contributed enormously to raise awareness and valuable funds for biomedical research into this disease.
An amazing man, and amazing family and an amazing adventure that this challenge has turned out to be.
Thank you Mike, Cat and Lucy.
Mike's page describing the challenge is herehttp://www.mikeseumarathons.eu/
Watch Mike's trailer on his Twitter account here