Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

New Year New You - run the Great North and help fight meningitis

Clara Wiggins | 3rd January 2020

If you need any inspiration to take part in the Great North Run this year then Stephanie McIntyre is your woman

Meningitis Now New Year New You - Great North Run fundraising event

As a meningitis survivor herself, Stephanie is already pretty amazing. She runs her own parent and toddler group, brings up five children with husband Craig, volunteers for the St John Ambulance and is studying to become a paramedic. 

But now she is taking her amazingness to the next level – by agreeing to raise money for us by competing in the Great North Run, which takes part this year on Sunday 13 September.

Stephanie fell ill in July 2018, although it took a full six days of tests before she was finally diagnosed with viral meningitis. But it was the after-effects of the disease that really impacted on Stephanie, and she told us she had only really started to recover after finding Meningitis Now.

“I struggled for a couple of days with intense headaches, I even took myself back to hospital for help for them,” she told us. 

“Then a couple of days later I could not move, the pain in my lower back was horrific – one minute I was eating my tea, the next I was paralysed on the floor, screaming in pain."

“This resulted in an ambulance call-out and I was admitted back to hospital where I spent another night and had a further MRI scan. Again, I was discharged with little advice, I started to get the impression no-one really knew much about meningitis."

Help and support

“I turned to the internet and social media for help and support – and this is where I first found Meningitis Now. Within a few weeks a member of the team came out to see me and it was such a relief to finally have someone to talk to, someone who could understand my experience and my after-effects."

You can read Stephanie’s story here, but in the meantime she is already mentally preparing for her run later this year.

“I have only ever run one 10k race before in 2014 (I think), and it took me just short of two hours with no prior training,” Stephanie told us. 

“But as a child I was very athletic and ran in a lot of competitions, so I suppose it has always been something I have enjoyed but just put on the back burner.”

Pride on completion

So why did Stephanie choose the Great North Run as her way to raise money for us? It turns out she was inspired by seeing other people doing it last year. “The social media coverage in 2019 made me really envious of all those taking part,” she said. 

“Everyone was filled with pride on completion and stated how amazing it is to participate. I think that was what gave me the push to go ahead, I love a challenge and I also thought it may be a good kick start to get my fitness up to a healthier standard too."

“And I suppose I feel I have hit a point in my life, given my recent circumstances, where I now think, "I want to live wilder, do more things, experience more things" etc. This is my time in life to be me again, hence starting college, volunteering for St John Ambulance and hopefully becoming a paramedic.”

Luckily for Stephanie, she won’t have to train alone. “I will be training with my 13-year-old daughter - although she won't be taking part, she runs for a local running club so she is more than happy to come out and support me and give me that extra push to keep running,” she said. 

“I have not thought much of training plans yet, I will probably Google for some advice. However, I will probably start off with just a little jog and aim to run a bit further each month."

“I was really excited upon booking, although I’m a bit anxious about the training right now as I don’t do much exercise. I am hoping that I can - with ample amount of training - complete the run within 3 hours!”

And finally, did she have any advice for anyone else thinking of signing up? 

“I would just say to people DO IT! Live life to the full! I have heard it’s an amazing atmosphere and the crowd really keep you going. Just think of the achievement when you cross the finish line!”

Need some help with training? Visit our Events Training Hub for a full range of training plans.

Find out more about the Great North Run:

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