Oz’s big cycle adventure across Vietnam

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A city woman is gearing up to take on a 450km cycle ride across Vietnam to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Oz Gunes, 24, will travel to Hanoi next month for the journey of a lifetime, which will take her from north to south Vietnam with daily distances ranging between 30km and 100km, before reaching the finish point at Ho Chi Minh City 10 days later.

The laboratory analyst, who works for Rexam Beverage Can in Milton Keynes, hopes to raise more than £3,500 for dementia research by the time she completes the challenge.

The adventure, which starts on September 11, will see Oz and 10 fellow cyclists battle soaring temperatures, hill climbs and dirt tracks as they travel through stunning landscapes to reach their finish line. As well as training hard for the physical challenge, Oz has thrown herself into fundraising with a range of events to help her reach her target – including cake sales, a zumbathon, and bucket collections at thecentre:mk and GO Outdoors.

Oz’s work colleagues threw their weight behind the fundraising challenge, using the company’s annual community can challenge to collect and recycle aluminium cans from local schools and businesses, raising £1,068 in the process. Meanwhile Hobbycraft in Milton Keynes allowed Oz to set up a face painting and card-making stand in their store, raising £450 towards her total.

To help her prepare, Halfords have generously loaned Oz a bike to train on, while Hertsmere Leisure offered their support with six months’ membership at Oakgrove Leisure Centre in Milton Keynes.

Oz said: “I knew I wanted to do something crazy and out of my comfort zone to raise money for charity, and this challenge seemed perfect. I’m not really one for exercise and I didn’t even own a bike before I signed up for this, so I’m really breaking some personal barriers with my training at the moment. I’ve been training as much as I can, but I’m a bit nervous about what’s involved, especially as some days we’ll be riding completely uphill. It’s not a race, so I plan to focus on getting through each day, and I know it will be an amazing adventure.

“I’m lucky enough that no-one I know has been affected by dementia, but I have been learning more about the condition and I want to volunteer to help people with dementia when this challenge is over. Research is the only way new treatments can be found, and working in a lab I know how much research can cost, so it made sense for me to raise money for the research experts.

“Everyone has been so generous with sponsorship, and I’m especially grateful to the different companies that have shown their support over the last few months. This is going to be a tough challenge, but knowing the money I raise will support Alzheimer’s Research UK makes it all worthwhile.”

Miranda Johnson, Head of Community Fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This is an amazing challenge, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Oz for her support – we’ll be wishing her the best of luck as she sets off on her journey. Every £20 she raises is enough to fund another hour of dementia research, bringing new treatments, preventions and improved diagnosis ever closer.

“With over 1,500 people affected by dementia in Milton Keynes alone, we urgently need to find ways of tackling the condition, but these can only come through research. We rely on our wonderful supporters to fund our research, and it’s thanks to the efforts of people like Oz that we’re able to continue our work.”

To sponsor Oz, visit her fundraising website at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ozge or to find out more about raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, contact fundraising@alzheimersresearchuk.org or 0300 111 5 666.