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Emotional 200-mile charity tribute in celebration of Alex

Katie Corkill and Laura Murray prepare for The Kaiser Challenge

Katie Corkill and Laura Murray prepare for The Kaiser Challenge

Press release issued: 27 June 2012

Two members of the University of Bristol will be embarking on an emotional 200-mile cycle ride next week in memory of a close friend who tragically died just eight weeks before his wedding day.

Katie Corkill, from the Centre for Sport Exercise and Health, and PhD student Laura Murray have been training intensively for the challenge and have helped to raise over £26,000 in memory of Alex Kaiser.

The popular 28-year-old, known as Kaiser, was found dead on 28 April in the back of a VW van he had hired after a day of downhill mountain biking in South Wales. Friends and family believe he died from a congenital heart defect.

His brave bride-to-be Sarah Hoare, from Clifton, has organised The Kaiser Cardiomyopathy Challenge to coincide with what would have been their wedding day.

Not only does she want to raise over £30,000 for the The Cardiomyopathy Association and Cardiac Risk in the Young charities, but she wants the event – which will end on 7 July, the day she and Alex were due to be married on her family farm – to be a celebration of his life.

Cyclists will set off from Alex’s home town of Glossop, in Derbyshire, on 5 July before pedalling 200 miles in three day to Nempnett Thrubwell, near Bristol.

Around 60 riders will be taking part in the challenge, many of whom have never owned a bike, let alone cycled so far.

Katie, who works as a School Event Coordinator and is Sarah’s best friend, said: "We are looking forward to the challenge ahead, not only to raise money and awareness for two great charities, but to spend three days with a group of friends remembering all the fantastic memories we shared with Alex. When we are faced with such tragedy we must try to find a positive to focus on and to take comfort in. Just knowing how proud Alex would be of us for taking on such a challenge will get me through each mile."

It’s thought Alex, an electrical engineer, died due to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart muscle disease that makes the heart vulnerable to dangerous and potentially fatal heart rhythms.

The condition affects people of all ages and is mostly inherited, according to the The Cardiomyopathy Association. It is not curable but can usually be treated successfully, with most of those affected going on to lead a long and full life.

Although Alex had not been diagnosed, he had suffered minor problems and, only a week before he set off for Wales, he had suffered a dizzy spell and fainted, but it had not caused too much concern as he was a fit and healthy man who cycled, ran and swam every week.

Laura, who is studying for a PhD in Neuroscience and used to live with Alex, added: "He was such an amazing guy who pushed himself to be the best he could possibly be at everything he did.  We know that Alex would be so proud of everyone taking part in the challenge and of the money and awareness it's raising for CMA & CRY in his name.  This will be real challenge for most us taking part but training is going well and this is the perfect way to remember and pay tribute to a true friend."

Further information about The Kaiser Cardiomyopathy Challenge, including how to sponsor the cyclists, is available here.

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