London Marathon: Sue Strachan wants to 'challenge perceptions' of dementia by running marathon

Media playback is not supported on this device

Sue Strachan, who has dementia, will show she can run London Marathon
London Marathon 2018
Date: Sunday, 22 April Start times (BST): Elite wheelchair (08:55), World Para-athletics Marathon World Cup (09:00), Elite Women (09:15), Elite Men & Mass start (10:00)
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio London, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV

As we build up to the London Marathon on Sunday, 22 April, Get Inspired is bringing you five inspiring stories - one each day until race day - about runners who will be taking on the 26.2-mile course. Here is the third story ...

"My ability to do mental arithmetic is gone, my concentration levels are very low and my sense of direction has gone. I tend to repeat myself a lot and I get very tired."

Sue Strachan, 62, was diagnosed with vascular dementia - a condition caused by reduced blood flow to the brain - in September 2014.

But on Sunday, 22 April, Sue will be running the London Marathon as she continues her "mission to challenge people's perceptions" of the illness by showing that dementia will not hold her back from finishing the 26.2-mile route.

After her diagnosis she was told by her doctor that keeping fit and exercising could help manage her symptoms.

From Couch to 5k, to half-marathon, to the 'big one'

Media playback is not supported on this device

Get running in just nine weeks with Couch to 5K!

Sue, who lives with her partner Sheila and dog Saffy in Herefordshire, followed her doctor's advice and decided to take up running.

She turned to Couch to 5k, a joint BBC Get Inspired and Public Health England project which helps beginners to get off the couch and running in just nine weeks.

"I started off walking for a minute, running for a minute and built it up to 30 minutes of running," she says.

At first, her goal was to finish a half-marathon before turning 60, which she did in October 2015.

But that was just the beginning for Sue, who now turns her attention to what she calls "the big one".

"I said I was never going to do something like the half-marathon again; but then I decided to apply for the London Marathon," she says.

'I've only got lost once so far'

Dementia sufferer and marathon Sue Strachan
Sue Strachan, who has dementia, will be running her first marathon on Sunday, having completed a half-marathon in October 2015

Sue's training has been going well but her illness does throw up some challenges.

"One of the questions people always ask me when they hear I'm training for a marathon is do I ever get lost when I'm out running," she explains.

"I have to ensure I plot my routes before I go. I stick to the same routes around where I live. I know all the landmarks, but I often can't remember the order they come in.

"However, I've only got lost once so far and although it was upsetting I got re-orientated and made my way home okay."

With dementia affecting around 850,000 people in the United Kingdom, and vascular dementia the second most common form, Sue will be running for the Alzheimer's Research charity.

"I want to do as much as possible while I am still able, to raise awareness of dementia and fundraise for research in the hope that one day there will be a cure for this awful disease."

Sue at home: with great nephew Theo and Saffy (top left), partner Sheila (top right), reading to Theo (bottom left) and on her lawnmower (bottom right)
Sue at home: with great nephew Theo and Saffy (top left), partner Sheila (top right), reading to Theo (bottom left) and on her lawnmower (bottom right)