In a remarkable display of determination, 21-year-old Freddie Dowland, a University of Bristol student battling narcolepsy, is embarking on a gruelling 70km run from Bristol to Cardiff alongside five friends.
The group aims to push their physical limits and raise funds for the charity Mind and Narcolepsy UK, shedding light on the challenges faced by those dealing with extreme tiredness.
Departing from their shared house in Bristol at 6am on 10 December, Dowland and his friends will set out on a mission to run to Cardiff Castle, with family members eagerly awaiting their arrival at the finish line. Dowland, coping with narcolepsy, will need to take several naps during the journey, facilitated by a support car trailing the runners.
Narcolepsy, a condition causing sudden ‘sleep attacks’ and extreme tiredness, became a part of Dowland’s life at the age of 11 when he was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy—conditions that, unfortunately, have no cure. Despite the challenges, Dowland manages his conditions with medication, scheduled naps, and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
Reflecting on his journey, Dowland shares, “I never thought I’d be able to run a half marathon, let alone this.” Recalling the difficult early years of his diagnosis, he mentions: “It was one of the hardest periods of my life. I was put on all sorts of drugs, with some bad side effects. My life changed completely, and I spent most of my time napping.”
Freddie Dowland’s friends, all fellow students at the University of Bristol, expressed their admiration for his resilience.
Joe Hughes, studying economics and finance, shares his initial unawareness of narcolepsy when he first met Mr. Dowland. He says: “It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see Freddie doze off in social settings. I speak for the whole group when I say our admiration for how he doesn’t let his condition restrict his life has spurred us on with our training for this run.”
The group aims to raise £3,000 for Mind and Narcolepsy UK through their challenging run, emphasising the importance of raising awareness about narcolepsy and supporting those affected by the condition.