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Adrian's Monster Triathlon for Brother with MND

Chairman is gearing up to raise £40k for MND Scotland's 40th anniversary by taking on gruelling 7-day challenge.

Posted : 21/04/2022

Adrian Murphy, Chair of MND Scotland, is gearing up for the biggest challenge of his life to honour his brother Brian Murphy who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), in 2019.

The 40-year-old CEO of a financial planning business from Glasgow will be taking on five gruelling events in 2022, with the ambitious target of raising £40,000 for charity MND Scotland, which is currently in its 40th anniversary year. YOU CAN DONATE HERE.

The peak of these events will be a 7-day Monster Triathlon (26 June – 2 July), the UK’s ultimate multi-sport challenge, which starts with a 5km swim in Loch Ness, followed by 1,000km of cycling across five days, and finishes with an ultra-marathon (50km) along the Thames in London. He’ll also be taking on the Loch Ness Etape (24 April), Etape Caledonia (15 May), Edinburgh Marathon (29 May) and an Ironman in Cork (14 August), all to raise funds for a cause close to his heart. 

Brian (49, pictured below with his wife Gillian) and Adrian are brothers in the close-knit Murphy clan – made up of seven siblings and two parents – who were left shocked and devastated by Brian’s diagnosis in February 2019. 

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This may cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or breathe unaided. There are no effective treatments for MND, which is why fundraisers like this are so vital to driving our search for a cure. 

Adrian said: “I remember it really clearly. It was a dark February evening and my Mum called me. She said something like ‘I think you should sit down’, so I could tell right away something was wrong. When she told me Brian had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, I was just in total shock. 

“I had seen Brian a couple of months before this and I did think he was walking funny – leaning slightly – and he had lost weight. At the time I didn’t think too much of it and kind of forgot about it.

“I’d heard a bit about MND through sporting people, like Fernando Ricksen and Jimmy Johnstone. Then the reality of the situation started to sink in very quickly. The diagnosis of MND is so bleak -18 month life expectancy from diagnosis. It was really tough. At time we just had no idea what to do, what to say or how to process it. So, there was a long period of trying to be normal in the beginning stages when his symptoms weren’t very noticeable.”

When Brian, a Consultant Cardiologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was first diagnosed his symptoms weren’t visible to friends and family, however months later he had to give up work as the disease progressed and his mobility deteriorated.

Adrian said: “I got my first big shock when Brian was on crutches and he couldn’t get up with stairs without assistance. From then on his symptoms got worse and he now no longer has use of his arms or legs, he uses a wheelchair full-time and a ventilator to help him breathe.

“I can be there for Brian as a brother, a friend and to help care for him when needed. I can sit with him and chat, try to create as many memories as possible, but there is an overwhelming sense of helplessness when someone you love is diagnosed with MND. There is only one outcome with MND, and I can’t do anything to stop it.”

To help him cope with the diagnosis, and do something for the cause, Adrian (pictured below with his wife Sarah) joined MND Scotland’s Board of Trustees in 2019 and became Chair of the charity in 2020. Now, to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary year and his own 40th birthday, Adrian is taking on the monster of all challenges to raise £40,000 to help people like Brian.

He continued: “I’m actually doing five events this year but the Monster Triathlon is really the one that is going to put my endurance, both physically and mentally, to the test.

“I think I wanted to do something that would inflict some suffering on me – like putting myself through some sort of pain will somehow make it better – even though it won’t. When I see what Brian, and other people with MND, go through on a daily basis I realise how much we all take for granted. Nothing I can do will ever compare.

“I also want to raise a significant amount of money, so it needed to be something big, that was going be painful and push me, to make people donate. It seemed fitting to set my target to £40,000 to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary and my own 40th.”

Brian, who is dad to Jack (20) and Catherine (15), was an amateur football player and keen runner before his diagnosis, and is Adrian’s inspiration for the gruelling and relentless training ahead.

Adrian said: “It’s going to take nine months of training every single day – wind, rain or shine – it doesn’t matter. I have a programme set out, and on the days when I’m tired or hurting, I remember what it’s all for and that drives me forward. 

“When I listen to Brian talk about how he would give anything to be able to do any of the things I am going to be doing, it breaks my heart. He was always athletic - he a very good footballer and could’ve gone down that route when he was younger, but he decided to be a doctor. Never mind what I am doing, he would give anything to be able to just walk down the street, holding his wife’s hand. He jokes that he’d give his left arm, but that it’s not much use to anybody now! That’s one thing he hasn’t lost – his sense of humour.

“Everyone else thinks I’m mad for taking on all these events, but Brian thinks it’s great.”

Speaking about his hopes for the funds raised he said: “Brian is ‘lucky’ in some ways. He has a huge support system and the means to get the care and support he needs in place. Not everyone has this, and people with MND do not have time to wait.  Many rely heavily on MND Scotland for free support to make living with MND easier, and for help to get the care they need in place in time. My goal is to help make an even bigger impact on people’s lives and to make sure no one has to go through this disease alone. 

“MND Scotland does this by funding pioneering MND research which is taking us closer to finding a cure, and by providing life-changing support to people here in Scotland – from financial grants and equipment loan, to counselling, support groups, and much more.

“We can only do this with the support of our fundraisers and donors. So, if you can, please donate to my fundraising page.”

Looking to the future and his time left with Brian he said:Every year we think ‘is this going to be his last Christmas or birthday’. While he knows he will miss many important moments in his kids' lives, he still has milestones he’s now hoping to reach – like his son Jack’s 21st birthday in May, or his own 50th in September. Brian also got married to his partner Gillian in June last year which was such a special day for the whole family to share together.

“We all want to focus on spending time together, having fun when we can and making memories. We’re just grateful he’s still here and I hope he’s here to see me complete these challenges – I know he’ll be cheering me on, following my progress and seeing the amazing fundraising coming off the back of it.”

You can show your support for Adrian's 40 for 40 Challenge by donating today. Every penny raised will go towards changing lives for like Brian, and fund our search for a cure.