‘I can do anything now’: Incurable bladder disease can’t stop Leigh teen’s coast to coast challenge

A Leigh teenager who suffers from an incurable bladder disease has exceeded fundraising expectations after running 140 miles in seven days.

Although originally aiming to raise £500 for his charity, donations on Matthew’s just giving page have skyrocketed and the current total including gift aid is close to £1,000.

A year ago, Matthew Gough, 19, was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC), a chronic inflammation of the bladder for which there is no cure.

Matthew told MM: “It’s extremely difficult to live with IC, personally I think I have it easy. Some of the stories that I’ve heard you just can’t believe. Instead of being part of your life, it becomes your life. The simple things that you take for granted are a challenge.”

Matthew set off on July 19 in Whitehaven, and ran coast to coast through some tricky weather conditions whilst battling his own body. He made it to Tyneside on Saturday July 25.

Throughout the trip, the teen kept his fans updated through twitter, posting pictures of his progress – some featuring spectacular views.

“The biggest summit was the ‘Hartside’ on the fourth day. A 1,903 foot climb. The views were unbelievable and the strain of the climb was just ridiculous,” he said.

“The finish wasn’t anti-climatic but it’s still sinking it. Overall, I felt relief. During the challenge my highest point was the day after the big climb, going through the Northumberland and Durham. After that 2,000 foot climb, I thought: ‘I can do anything now’.”

Despite keeping a humorous front, Matthew suffered from serious sunburn and blisters as he pushed through to the finish line.

Matthew’s condition and the complications that it can cause on a long distance run meant that proper hydration was essential.

“The strain on the stomach was difficult. Frequent trips to the toilet are always going to be tough if you’re in the middle of nowhere. But as I went on, I got used to the routine,” he said.

“The first day was probably the lowest. It properly poured it down the whole day. We set off at 10 in the morning and didn’t get to our accommodation until 8’oclock at night. Even those on the bikes were finding it difficult.”

He added: “The mental challenge was the hardest part, to pick myself up and just keep going every day.”

Matthew has received a great deal of support from family and friends, the people of Leigh and even his local MP and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, who has called him ‘an inspirational young man’. 


“Andy Burnham has been a massive help. I’m just a normal person but through social media and him I’ve been able to get support. It’s all about raising awareness. Now that he and I have a strong relationship hopefully he’ll be able to help me do bigger and better things.”

Matthew is still pushing to raise funds for research carried out by the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, the charity that has given him so much support since his diagnosis, but he does not want to stop there.

“I got so many goodwill messages from people I don’t even know, people with the same condition as me. It’s more common than I realised, especially in America. Also, I read somewhere that over 400,000 people have it here in the UK.

“The ideal plan/scenario is to get a bigger following and people can give me ideas to do challenges – bigger, better harder.

“A lot of people raise money for problems such as cancer and heart disease and I think it’s great but I feel like I need to focus on people that have less known conditions. They’re not represented in the media. These conditions might not be terminal, but people have to live with them every day.”

To donae to Matthew’s Just giving page:

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