An explorer has completed seven marathons in the most remote corners of all seven continents, inspired by a promise he made to his late grandfather to fight for a cure for dementia.

Louis Alexander started the challenge in October last year, taking on marathons in locations including the Agafay Desert in Morocco, the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, and Alaska. He finished the feat in Antarctica on December 13.

The inspiration behind the challenge was Mr Alexander’s grandfather, Captain Rick Taylor, who served in the British Army for 38 years and died in 2019 with dementia.

Man posing
Louis Alexander said the snow was a challenge in Antarctica (Louis Alexander/PA)

Mr Alexander, 24, who is based in London, told the PA news agency: “At his funeral, when I was 19, I had the huge privilege of delivering the eulogy … and there I made a promise to support this fight against dementia until the day we find a cure.”

While running the marathons he carried a letter calling for the Government to invest £16 million in improving dementia diagnostics.

“It’s a long shot, but I think it’s possible,” he said.

“The ultimate reason I ran seven marathons across seven continents is because this is a global challenge for a global cause and I wanted to highlight that dementia is in the most remote corners of all of the world.

Louis Alexander challenge
Louis Alexander during his marathon in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan (Nick Butter/PA)

“Now I’ve returned home because it’s time that the UK takes a forefront in helping to fight for a cure and proper diagnosis.”

He added that running with the letter made it feel as though “my grandad’s with me every step of this project”.

“That promise I made to him when I was 19 changed my life because my whole focus shifted.

“Carrying this letter, in a weird way, almost brought it all together and was a nice reminder.

“The seven marathons on the seven continents would be nothing without this letter.”

Louis Alexander challenge
Louis Alexander during his Australian Outback run (Carwyn Monck/PA)

He said it feels “amazing” to have finished the challenge.

“This project has been the greatest journey of my life really,” he said.

“I’ve been really lucky to have seen some of the best wildlife in the world and met some of the most amazing people.”

He said the final marathon in Antarctica “quickly became a challenge of survival rather than actually a challenge of running”.

“When the wind did hit us and we turned one corner and weren’t protected from the mountains, I felt a burning sensation,” he said.

Louis Alexander challenge
Louis Alexander in the Agafay Desert (Louis Alexander/PA)

“The snow picked up to a point where it was almost like sand and was so painful, and when it hit the right side of my body it burned and I thought my internal organs may be bleeding.

“It was brutal, so crossing that finishing line was a big relief.”

He added that the scenery was “incredible” – “We were running just next to the Ellsworth Mountains.”

He said the deserts were “hardest” and called the marathons in the Amazon and the Australian Outback “totally unique”.

“I had the huge privilege of running on the indigenous land of the Kichwa community and that took three months of negotiations to get the approval from the leader out there,” he said.

Louis Alexander challenge
Louis Alexander during his run in Alaska (Louis Alexander/PA)

He has raised close to £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, which he said has been “superb”.

“It means the world to have that encouragement when things get tough and you’re in a snowstorm in the Antarctic or whether you’re in a rainstorm in the Amazon,” he said.

He has also set up a digital petition, for which he hopes to get 10,000 signatures, to put further pressure on the Government to invest more money in dementia diagnostics.

He hopes to deliver the letter in person to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in January, having received a letter of acknowledgment from his office a few days ago.

Louis Alexander challenge
Mr Alexander during his marathon in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan (Nick Butter/PA)

Lucy Squance, director of supporter-led fundraising at Alzheimer’s Research UK, added: “We are absolutely delighted to see Louis complete his year-long challenge in honour of his grandfather and to raise vital funds for dementia research.

“Louis’s determination to complete all seven marathons – one on each continent – in a range of gruelling conditions is truly inspiring and the money he has raised will help us in our search for a cure to end the heartbreak of dementia.”

More information about Mr Alexander’s marathons and his fundraising page can be found at

Mr Alexander’s petition can be found at