When her father Andy died of vascular dementia last July, Annalene Coyle decided to do something to raise cash for vital research and support work.
The superfit cat-sitter and self-employed cleaner from Tollcross decided to take a break from domestic chores and threw herself into training for one of the world’s most gruelling endurance events – running aacross the sweltering Sahara Desert.
Annalene, 43, trains most days with her dogs for the infamous Marathon de Sables, and jets off to the sand dunes for the 150-mile race in just over a week.
Taking a break from her punishing training regime, Annalene explained why she is taking on the desert to raise money for the charity Alzheimer Scotland.
She said: “My dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer, vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. He recovered from cancer at the age of 88, but went on the decline through his dementia diagnosis. Soon it became too much for mum and the family and eventually dad was moved to a care home where he seemed to flourish for a time before passing away at the age of 93.
“The reason I want to raise money is because they help families now, the money isn’t just for research.
“I know so many families who are going through what we went through and everybody seems lost and in limbo. Nobody ever seems to know what to expect next. The information they receive seems disjointed and Alzeihmer Scotland can give them answers that are more concise and helpful. I’d like to try and raise awareness of what Alzheimer Scotland can offer in regards to help, support and guidance. Because my father suffered so long, I wanted to do something very special in his memory. The huge challenge of the Marathon de Sables seemed quite apt. Also the fact I’m doing it in my father’s memory has kept me motivated and on track with my fairly intense training regime. I’ve focused all my energy so I know he’d be very proud – although he’d likely think I was daft for taking on such a challenge.”
She added: “I’m lucky in that I have a very active job as a cat-sitter and cleaner. I look after people’s cats in their own homes all over the city so I’ve been able to incorporate my training into my daily work. Where normally I’d cycle between my jobs, for the past six months I’ve left my bike at home and I’ve walked and ran around the city.
“Running and walking while I’m working, and exercising my own very active dogs amounts to at least 100 miles per week. Alongside this I’ve done three 90-minute gym sessions per week and also hot yoga. I’m now quite pleased to be at the stage of training where I can relax in a sauna twice a day in order to acclimatise to the temperatures I’ll soon have to endure.“
The Marathon de Sables is a self-sufficient 250km multi-stage, ultramarathon across the Sahara, comprising six marathons over tortuous terrain and in incredible heat between April 5 and 15.