Cancer Research “Dryathlon” and why I won’t be taking part

Have you heard of the Cancer Research Dryathlon? Simply put, this is it:

No alcohol. For January. For Cancer Research UK.

They claim this to be the nation’s first “Dryathlon.”

Really? This seems to me like another word for a detox. I’m pretty sure that thousands of people nationwide have been doing this, especially in January, for years. I have a few bones to pick about what I consider a pretty pathetic excuse for a fundraiser. Before I go on, let me just make a few things clear as I am well aware that this is not going to be a popular blog post.

  • Giving up alcohol for a month is not a bad thing. It does us good to give our bodies a rest, especially as so many of us to have one drink too many during Christmas!
  • Raising money for charity is not a bad thing
  • I lost my Grandmother to cancer earlier this year, so anyone who may have been considering a comment along the lines of “you have clearly lost no one to cancer” can be quiet.
  • Although I don’t like Cancer Research as a charity (visit JogBlog for more information) and would rather support another cancer charity, I am aware that charity giving and fundraising is a personal choice. I’m not telling anybody that they shouldn’t do it. I’m sharing the reasons why I won’t be.

So how does it work? It’s really very simple. You don’t drink for the whole month of January and people sponsor you for it, the money raised going to CRUK. For me, if I’m going to sponsor someone to do something, then it should be something that is challenging. Are you working your arse off to train for a marathon to raise money for a charity close to your heart? Excellent, if I can afford it, I will sponsor you. Are you doing something incredible to raise awareness? Good for you! However, I feel that if you need to be sponsored to not drink alcohol for a month and that this is a challenge, then there is clearly a larger issue here.

Everyone knows I like a glass of wine or a pint. Christ, my picture on my “About Me” page shows me with a pint in hand! Not very ladylike, but I digress. I’ve suffered nasty hangovers from drinking too much, just like everyone else. But I’m not an alcoholic and I often give my body a detox from alcohol and caffeine to give it a break. It’s not a challenge. In my view, anybody who finds giving alcohol up for a month a big challenge needs to take a look at themselves and ask whether they really have a healthy relationship with booze or not. In doubt? Then visit your GP.

Secondly, CRUK are offering a “get-out-clause”, although admittedly in return for donations.

Fancy a night off?

We can help but it comes at a cost!

Basically, if you have a night out coming up, a special occasion, or simply just want a night off, then this is OK. They simply recommend that you throw in an additional donation yourself, or suggest the following text for you to Tweet or put on Facebook:

Although I’m a world class Dryathlete something has come up that means I could do with a night off. Friends, I beg of you, grant me a Golden Pass (for a suggested donation of £15) and help beat cancer sooner.

This goes against the very thing that they are promoting – a month of not drinking and encouraging people to then sponsor their friends to have a night on the sauce.

CRUK, whilst I agree that encouraging the nation to tone down their drinking is a good thing, I’m not sure that a glorified detox with a get-out-clause is an admirable way of raising money. Sorry. It just highlights a problem with binge drinking in this country that people find it a challenge to even consider taking part. If you want to donate to charity, then go ahead but doing something silly can occasionally cheapen the cause, just like in this case.

Finally, if the whole nation goes dry, will there be any pubs left for us to visit in February?! Now this would be a tragedy.


  1. December 15, 2012 / 1:20 pm

    I saw a poster for this today while out for a run and thought another month, another cause. Yes it’s a charity and like you, you wouldnt try to influence anyones opinion on who they should or shouldnt donate money to.

    But this just seems a little lazy.

    While the idea of “Mo-vember” at first seems like a good one, it raises awareness of Mens Cancer, and the symptoms involved it’s also been revealed that many who grew mustaches in November (mainly men) werent aware of why they were doing it in the first place!

    I’m an advocate of facial hair (again mainly with men) and regularly grow a beard throughout the year, so for me growing a mustache for November wouldnt be something unusual, that’s why I’ll just stick to running marathons for raising money.

    By the way, while we’re on the subject the world as gone crazy for changing the names of months into charity puns, “Mo-vember”, “Decembe-ard” a new one “Fan-uary” (Just started for the ladies), The least CRUK could have done with their “Dryathlon” is made a play on January….

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  3. Dave
    January 1, 2014 / 7:49 pm

    I totally disagree with you on this: I run regularly and take part in triathlons and other sporting events and I personally find it far harder to give up booze for a month-in fact I am the opposite-I am always getting sponsorship requests for another run and would much prefer to sponsor someone doing something different.

  4. Pete Smith
    December 30, 2015 / 11:50 am

    I completely agree – but with a slightly different reason.

    January – the month after most people go a little wild and drink far more than they should. Even without the charity reason, a lot of people will decide to have January off the drink because they’ve overdone it in December… and now you want sponsoring for something you wanted to do anyway – in no way is it a challenge or getting you to do something that you would prefer not to.

    Tell me you’re going dry in December, the month of work parties, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, reunions with friends, Christmas Markets and New Years Eve – I’ll definitely sponsor you – that is a definite challenge! to give up drinking at all of these social event definitely is a big deal! But I won’t sponsor you if you decide to use the “Get-Out-Clause” – it’s like getting people to sponsor you for a marathon, then paying £15 yourself and not doing it!

  5. AB
    December 31, 2015 / 2:48 pm

    Anybody that wants me to sponsor them just for not drinking alcohol can expect short shrift. I don’t drink any day of the year, and don’t expect any kudos for it. It would however be nice if I could go out just once without some closet alchy projecting their insecurities about alcohol onto me by subjecting me to an interrogation about “why I’m not drinking?” Seriously, if you recognise yourself in that description, please STFU in future: it will be appreciated far more than not drinking for a month.

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