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They Think It's All Over - It Is Now?

Around The Courses In 80 Days: A Journey Across 59 British Racecourses for Dementia UK




On April 7th, I embarked on an extraordinary journey from Exeter, and on June 26th, I triumphantly crossed the finish line at Worcester. Over 80 days, I visited all 59 British racecourses, timed perfectly whilst racing took place, and walked each course before the first race. This challenge, "Around The Courses In 80 Days," was not just a physical and logistical endeavor but a deeply personal mission to raise funds for Dementia UK, a charity close to my heart.


Why Dementia UK?




Dementia UK provides specialist support to families facing dementia through its Admiral Nurses, who work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for those affected. The emotional, practical, and psychological support they offer is invaluable, and the funds raised through this challenge are crucial in helping them continue their vital work. With over £15,000 raised so far, the impact on Dementia UK’s efforts is significant.


The Mental Toughness Required


The challenge was as mentally taxing as it was physically demanding. Traversing the entire country and keeping to a tight schedule required immense mental resilience. Each racecourse presented its own set of challenges, from navigating unfamiliar terrains to dealing with the ever-changing British weather.


The Loneliness

Loneliness was a constant companion during this journey. Despite being surrounded by people on race days, the solitary walks before the events highlighted the isolation. However, it was in these quiet moments that I reflected on the purpose of my journey and found the strength to keep going.



Support from Friends and Family




The unwavering support from friends and family was my lifeline. Many friends joined me on race days, cheering me on and sometimes walking alongside me. My wife, Julie, was my rock throughout this endeavor. Her love and encouragement were crucial, especially during the toughest moments. Julie's belief in the cause and in me kept my spirits high and my focus sharp.


Challenges Faced


The journey was far from smooth. Just days before the challenge began, the sponsored car caught fire on the M25, throwing a spanner in the works. Additionally, a previous business partner, Mark Williams, attempted to sabotage the event by emailing racecourses, discouraging them from supporting my fundraising efforts. Such actions were bewildering and disappointing. How an individual, despite our personal differences, can stoop so low with this kind of behaviour is totally beyond me. But his actions only strengthened my resolve to succeed.

The car was a financial headache personally as it meant hiring one for a few weeks until Paul Chiplin and his wife Marcelle kindly lent me their car for the remainder of the journey, absolute legends!



Support from Racecourses



While some racecourses, particularly those owned by The Jockey Club, were less supportive, Arena Racing Company (ARC) went above and beyond to assist me. Their hospitality and encouragement were instrumental in keeping the challenge on track. Independent courses also played a significant role, often going out of their way to support the cause.


The Diversity of British Racecourses


The diversity of British racecourses was a revelation. Each venue had its unique charm, from the sprawling landscapes of rural tracks to the vibrant atmospheres of urban racecourses. This variety added a rich layer to the experience, making each visit a new adventure.




Top 10 Collections

  • 1st - Chelmsford City £615.80

  • 2nd - Fontwell £551.17

  • 3rd - Newton Abbot £514.10

  • 4th - Brighton £504.03

  • 5th - Chepstow £498.20

  • 6th - Ludlow £444.20

  • 7th - Lingfield Park £430.01

  • 8th - Ffos Las £424.87

  • 9th - Sandown Park £408.11

  • 10th - Carlisle £339.48


Support from Brand Ambassadors and Racing Personalities


The support of three Brand Ambassadors - Mike Cattermole, Dylan Cunha, and Sandy Thomson - was invaluable. Their involvement helped raise awareness and drive donations.



Additionally, masses of encouragement from racing personalities along the way kept the momentum going and provided much-needed morale boosts.





A Journey of Fulfillment and Self-Discovery


Reflecting on this journey, I am filled with pride and fulfillment. The challenges faced and overcome have taught me much about my own resilience and the kindness of strangers. The significant amount raised for Dementia UK is a testament to the generosity of those who supported the cause. This journey was not just about visiting racecourses; it was about making a difference.


Final Thoughts and Ongoing Support


The JustGiving page will remain open for a few more weeks as donations continue to come in. If you haven't yet contributed and would like to support Dementia UK, please visit www.justgiving.com/page/aroundthecourses


Thank you to everyone who supported this challenge in any way. Together, we have made a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by dementia.


Here are a selection of random photos that are among my favourites from the entire challenge...


Over and out!

Graham Arnold

2nd July 2024




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