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Welcome to the home page of “Any Mile is Better”. This is a run and walk challenge from Bristol to Exeter to raise money and awareness for dementia research charity BRACE and the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance.

This 130 mile route is being completed in sections by former south west journalist Jo Earlam, supported by friends and family.

GBHL4289-20x30 (1)The challenge begins with the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday 17th September 2017 and ends with the Exeter Half Marathon on Sunday 15th October.

In between the route will cover a further eight half-marathon distances, also taking in the dementia fundraising Muddifords Cheese Run, on Sunday 8th October.

Jo, a 52-year-old former newspaper and BBC local radio journalist, has completed a variety of self-organised challenges for several different charities over the last 20 years.

As a supporter of the Bristol based dementia research charity BRACE, she wanted to organise a special event to mark the charity’s 30th anniversary year  – the original idea being to run from Swansea and Plymouth, taking in all the centres where BRACE funds research, covering a distance of around 260 miles, or 10 marathons.

Following the sudden death of her mum, Rosemary, in April, Jo was unable to make further plans. In June, her husband, John, was referred to the Exeter Memory Clinic and has been diagnosed with cognitive impairment and early signs of dementia, for which he is still undergoing assessment. He has further health problems caused from suffering two strokes four years ago.

Jo said: “These life events had a significant impact on me and the type of challenge I can commit to. Mum helped me take care of John and would have assisted me with practical issues in planning and undertaking a long endurance challenge.

“As a carer, I need to balance things I now do around John. Being away from home for an extended time would be difficult, also fitting in the extra training needed for a longer sustained physical challenge.

“John’s prognosis of increased risk of developing vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s makes me determined to do something. My original idea is no longer feasible, hence the reduced route distance and staggered time lapse of this challenge.

“The concept that any mile is better than none was inspired by a walk I regularly do, of about a mile, with scenic views and points of interest. It’s always a boost to get out in the fresh air and countryside even for 15 or 20 minutes.

“Physical activity plays an important part in helping to stave off dementia, which is one of my worries about my own health. The more we can do to raise money, awareness and stay healthy, the better chance there is of combatting this cruel disease.”