We are delighted to let you know that Newport parkrunner Karen Penny has completed her epic British and Irish coastal trek.
Karen first set out on her mission to walk the entire combined coastlines of Britain and Ireland in January 2019. Even after having to return twice home due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, Karen managed to complete the 10,500-mile walk well ahead of her original estimate of four years.
She completed her trek on World Alzheimer’s Day, 21 September, at Hermaness on the Scottish isle of Unst, where she was met by her husband Mark and son George.
She then enjoyed a fantastic homecoming to Pennard, South Wales, where family, friends and supporters lined up to celebrate her achievement in style.
Karen’s has raised over £110,000 for vital dementia research. She chose to support Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of her husband’s parents who both died with dementia.
Over the past two and a half years, Karen has met people from all over the British Isles and Ireland and she has been overwhelmed by their support. Before the pandemic she also visited several parkruns along her route and accompanied the Tail Walkers around the courses.
She said: “I’ve just been met all around the country by the most wonderful people. I’ve stayed on boats, in barns, bird hides, hammocks and so many kind, generous people have put me up for the night.
“I’ve made so many new friends from the journey and while they’ve only been with me for a fleeting glimpse of the journey, they will stay with me forever.”
However, there were also times when she would not come into contact with anyone for days, especially in north Scotland.
She said: “Those were the darkest months up there when it was a real test, a real challenge. You’re by yourself with just what you’ve got in your backpack. Part of the learning curve has been learning to cope with loneliness.”
Karen said her family were instrumental in making the walk so successful.
She said: “Mark was at home organising all my routes and planning and keeping me afloat really. I would have really struggled without his support.”
Although Karen is enjoying a well-deserved rest, donations are continuing to come into her fundraising page. You can donate here.
If you’d like to take on your own challenge for Alzheimer’s Research UK, check out our fundraising website where you’ll find lots of ideas and can download a free fundraising pack. Your challenge doesn’t have to be as extreme as Karen’s! Whatever you do, you’ll be helping us to make life-changing breakthroughs for people with dementia.
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