Aggressive epilepsy and running marathons: An Irish teenager's powerful story 7 years ago

Aggressive epilepsy and running marathons: An Irish teenager's powerful story

18-year-old Katie Cooke suffers from an aggressive, refractory form of epilepsy, which sees her experiencing around 15 seizures with loss of consciousness every day - including throughout sleep. 

Despite this, she is successfully pursuing her passion for running, along with advocating for people suffering from a brain disease in Ireland.


After running the Women's Mini-Marathon in June (in under an hour!), Katie has taken on the challenge of completing the entire SSE Airtricity Dublin Race Series, including the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, in aid of the proposed Dr John Kirker Brain Disease Centre at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin.

Katie runs with her consultant neurologist, Dr. Colin Doherty, and together, they make a great team. By encouraging and swapping tips with one another, they managed to complete the half marathon in one hour, 55 minutes. An incredible feat!

A cropped shot of a couple running along a rocky mountain path

Katie said: ‘I love running. It helps me release stress, give me a focus in life and there’s a great feeling of satisfaction from it. ‘I’ve even had the words run like the wind tattooed on me!


She explained: 'I’ve always felt really listened to about my seizures and illness by Dr Doherty and the team at St. James’s Hospital. Everyone is so nice and they take the time to understand what it’s like to be me. I feel very strongly about this fundraising campaign because I know what it’s like to live with a brain illness. It would be really good if everyone affected had had more space for their clinic visits.’

Dr. Colin Doherty said: 'When I heard that Katie had run the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon on her own, and within an hour, as a fellow runner and her consultant -  I was very impressed.  She then stepped forward saying that she wanted to take on the SSE Airtricity Race Series and possibly the Dublin  marathon itself.  I realised that the best way she could achieve her ambition was if we ran together, which we did for the half marathon and it worked. Despite having three seizures along the way, she finished in a time of 1 hr 55 mins which has got to be a world record!'

Katie and Colin are also asking fellow runners who are competing on the 26th of October in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, who have not decided on a charity that they might run for, to consider joining their team.

To join the team, or to make a donation, visit


Here at JOE Towers we're also in training for the upcoming SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon on 26th October. You can keep an eye on our girl Tara's progress here, or head on over to SSE Airtricity for more information.