In memory of Alison Brind

Alison Brind – Karen Nash’s memories

Sadly Alison died in April 2024. I first met Alison in 2009 when I started doing Runfurther races, she had been doing their races since 2006.  From then onwards I regularly saw her constant smiley face at many ultras and LDWA events.  

I was aware that she was a highly regarded doctor specialising in liver patient care but did not realise quite how far reaching her dedication to this had reached. She was a consultant hepatologist and had always gone the extra mile quite literally fund raising for her patients by running the London Marathon in 2010. After 25 years as a doctor she was determined to continue making a difference after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2022.  Many charity runs post diagnosis and a book with sales going to charity have raised almost £14000 for a scanner at her hospital in the north Midlands and for British Liver Trust.  Her just giving site is still live and can be found here

The book is titled ‘I never stop’ and will be a good read with many adventures running and trekking both in the UK and abroad. I will remember Alison for her humour and ready smile.  I have fond memories of collecting sheep’s wool with her on one run as she was convinced it would provide padding for her sore feet and that the natural lanolin would help too.  I was awed in our early friendship to find that she had completed the Petit Trot Leon, a tough team event in the Alps. You would never know it from her quite humble nature.

Alison was worried that she would disappear and be forgotten- No Chance! She will be remembered by so many with such fondness.

Alison Brind – Nick Ham’s memories

I learned of Alison’s diagnosis by a strange fluke. In early 2023 I’d been trying to contact my cousin by text then by calling, but was getting no response. Eventually I got an answer but the voice at the other end didn’t sound like her. My mind was churning as she told me early in the conversation that she’d been diagnosed with cancer. The jaunty, up-beat, matter-of-fact tone of her voice, even with that devastating revelation, made me realise that the “Alison” in my phone was Alison Brind. My cousin is also called Alison and I’d been talking at cross-purposes. I had to offer my profuse apologies at my mix-up, but she wasn’t bothered in the slightest. She told be that there was going to be a fund-raising Trentham Gardens parkrun on 28/01/2023. I attended and was amazed at the turn-out. There were 698 finishers but I’m sure there were more. Perhaps some just went along for the fundraising  and didn’t go through the finish funnel. Alison stood on a bench to give a talk about the liver charity she was working so hard to fundraise for before sending us off on our 5k journey.

Photo courtesy unknown parkrunner.

I knew Alison from way back on the LDWA events, including the 100s, then from the beginning of the Runfurther champs in 2006. In those early years she was confused by many, including me, with Joanna (Jo) Miles. Both were of similarly short and slight stature with a shock of dark curly hair. Neither of them minded being mistaken for the other. They’d become used to it. The earliest Runfurther leaderboard I have is from 2007, and I see in that year she completed the Haworth Hobble (Wuthering Hike as was), The Fellsman, Manx Mountain Marathon and High Peak 40.

Alison took on some very big challenges abroad, sometimes in extreme conditions. One of them was La Petite Trotte à Léon in August 2006. It is the toughest of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc series of races and can take up to 6 days to complete. Her team of three was called The Midget Gems.

The Midget Gems about to set off on La Petite Trotte à Léon, August 2006 (Alison on the left).

I often wondered how her slight frame withstood what she put it through. I sensed that she didn’t just push herself to the limit, but beyond the limit. Her grit and determination were remarkable. One big event we both did was the Swiss Jura Marathon stage race in August 2008 (350km over 7 days from Geneva to Basel). She breezed through it – just another week at the office.

Alison with three other Brits at the start of the Swiss Jura Marathon beside Lake Geneva.

I only ever knew Alison as a long distance runner. I didn’t know her line of work until recent years when, in conversation at races, she mentioned about driving home the message for people to look after their livers.

I attended the memorial service for her on Friday 3rd May 2024 in a favourite country hotel near Trentham where she had had previous celebrations, like this was to be – a celebration of her life. The parked cars had to spill out onto local roads. Two conference rooms were packed for the occasion. A live video feed fed into the second room where I was and on-line for anyone who couldn’t attend in person. The celebration of her work life and running life, tinged with the inevitable sadness, was followed by a large buffet lunch for the well over 100 attendees. Copies of “I Never Stop” were available for purchase. I was hoping there would be. I availed myself.

Alison was, and is, held in very high regard by all who knew her.

StokeonTrentLive tribute article including video. 8th April 2024.