Tracy Watt, is running the London marathon this year in dedication to her father who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of just 58 and sadly passed away 4 years later.  In his memory she is running her tenth marathon, a great achievement, her father would be proud of. 

"My Dad was my hero. He was the most courageous and inspirational man. He never failed to let me know how much he loved me, how proud he was - and that he'd support me, no matter what. 

He guided me through some very difficult times; he was my rock when I lost my son, and he was there for me when I was navigating my divorce. I'll always remember him driving all the way from Dalkeith to Fort William to help me pack up my life and bring me home. He was my pillar of strength.

Dad was only 58 when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We’d suspected for a while that something might be wrong, he’d been getting confused and it had been causing problems for him at work. In many ways, his diagnosis offered some relief because at least now we could understand what was wrong. 

Still, it was a shock. Mum found it hard to cope at first and I really didn’t know how to help her. I’m generally such a practical person but I struggled to know what to do for the best. Strip the wallpaper? No problem!  But now, trying to help my own parents navigate this new reality, I was completely lost. Quite quickly, it all got too much for Mum. It felt so overwhelming - we knew we needed help.

So, we looked into what support was available locally and found the Alzheimer Scotland office in Dalkeith. When we visited for the first time, Mum just burst into tears. Mixed with panic, anxiety and fear of the unknown, all of these emotions just spilled out. But what a team! They were fantastic, listening to our worries, connecting us with a local support network and helping us find a fabulous carer for Dad. 

After Dad’s diagnosis I brought him along to a fitness class I was teaching for older adults. I wanted him to stay active, whilst giving Mum a bit of respite. He stood at the back, clapping and cheering. Afterwards, he proudly announced to the whole class that I was his daughter. It was the loveliest moment; one I’ll never forget. 

A keen runner, I completed my first marathon in 2013. This year, I’ll run my 10th marathon in 10 years. I’m not feeling too nervous at the prospect; more excited and in many ways, emotional. I want to make Dad proud again. Often, when I’m training in the wind and rain, I’m spurred on by thoughts of him and what he’d be saying to encourage me.

Tracy running London Marathon in dedication to her dad
Tracy's dad

Dad passed away in 2011 at only 62 years old. He was so young; I can’t deny that I feel robbed of many years of happiness with him. But, I do take comfort thinking that if he was still with us, he’d be out there with me, helping and supporting me to train. And, just as they did in life, thoughts of his inspirational words will carry me through those long, dark miles. I’ll remind myself, no matter how tough it becomes, nothing is as hard as losing my wonderful Dad. 

I’ve come through it though and I’ll run this race with his mantra in mind. “Always do your best,” he used to say. And I will, on Marathon Day and every day – for him". 

We wish Tracy and everyone fundraising for us good luck in the London Marathon - April 23rd.