12 challenges in 12 months

Last year Jodie Prior undertook 12 challenges for GAIN in 12 months, all in the name of her Grandad, Colin. Here is her story of a most remarkable year.

I lost my beloved Grandad, Colin, to Guillain-Barré syndrome in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. My family were unable to say their goodbyes or give him the proper send-off he truly deserved. Last year, I wanted to do something spectacular in his memory to celebrate his life. My grandad was not one for half-hearted effort, so instead of signing up to one challenge, I decided to take on twelve – one each month throughout the year. Here’s what I got up to:  





January – 100 km of Running  

Now, running does not come naturally to me, let alone in the freezing cold and muddy weather. I would love to say that by the end of the month I found things a little easier, but I would be lying!  

February – 400 km of Cycling  

In contrast to January, I thoroughly enjoyed February’s challenge. Getting out on the bike and using the peloton in the evenings instead of watching TV was good for the soul.  

March – Cambridge Half Marathon (21 km) 

As I said, I’m still not a fan of running but this was a big milestone I wanted to complete and just about managed to (with a nice tumble at 4 km in0. Luckily nothing was bruised except my ego.  

April – Isle of Wight Ultra Marathon (106 km in under 24 hours)  

A truly humbling 18 hours, and my hardest challenge of the year! Mud, laughter, sweat, tears, aching legs and everything in between. I met some incredible people during this challenge and wouldn’t have crossed the finish line without them. This event really highlighted the best in humanity and I’m so proud of myself for making it to the end in one piece (or thereabouts).  

May – London to Brighton Bike Ride (104 km)  

This was a very special month for me – not only was it Guillain Barre Awareness Month, but I took the same route my Grandad took to Brighton on his bike many years ago. The sun was shining, and I couldn’t help but smile the whole way there.  

June – Dorney Lake Sprint Triathlon (750 m Swim, 20 km Bike, 5 km Run) 

Although I have completed a few sprint triathlons prior to this, my main aim for this challenge was to beat my PB. I’m pleased to say I did, shaving 20 minutes off my previous time!  

July – National 3 Peaks Challenge in under 24 hours
My partner Stephen naively agreed to do this challenge with me, and I quote ‘would not unrecommend something enough’. It wasn’t as bad as he made out, but with 60 mph winds and heavy rain on Snowdon at 3am, it’s safe to say we didn’t have the nicest experience! Shout out to my parents who drove 100+ kilometres on very little sleep to get us from A to B.  

August – Olympic Triathlon (1.5 km Swim, 40 km Bike, 10 km Run) 

This month built upon June’s sprint triathlon and stepped it up a notch. I’d never done an Olympic triathlon before but really enjoyed the experience. If you’ve been considering giving a triathlon a go, I highly recommend biting the bullet and signing up – they are such supportive and fun events to be part of.  

September – 50 km of Swimming  

Now, this month was a slight disaster – I had a small accident which left me with a nasty concussion and shoulder injury, meaning swimming was out the window. I managed 15km in the first week of the month but couldn’t continue to reach the full 50km. Instead, my amazing friends and family got involved and swam on behalf to reach my target. I am so thankful to everyone who got involved and swam a few lengths!  

October – Get a Tattoo  

A tattoo is something I’ve always wanted but never got round to doing. The tattoo I had designed is extremely meaningful and there is an ode to my Grandad in there, making it even more special.  

November – Everest Base Camp (11 days, 5364 m altitude, 130km) 

It’s hard to sum up this trip in so few words, but it truly was the trip of a lifetime. The scenery, culture, food, hiking and sherpas were all incredible. Absolutely awe-inspiring and a trip I feel extremely grateful to have experienced.  

December – 12 Days of Christmas Ice Bath Challenge  

To finish the year, I wanted to do something a little different, so I moved away from the physical challenges and instead got in the ice bath every day for 12 days, staying in a minute longer each time. This really was a lesson in mental resilience but boy you feel amazing when you get out. Give it a go, focus on your breathing and try to crack a smile if you can. 

Overall, last year not only taught me a lot about myself, but also allowed me to give back to such an amazing cause in memory of my Grandad. The work GAIN does really is critical for those affected by Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), CIDP and the associated inflammatory neuropathies. Thank you to everyone who supported me and donated along the way – I am forever grateful and can’t wait to fundraise for GAIN again in the future.  

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