AN athlete currently taking part in a gruelling 5,000-mile bike tour will make a pit stop at Basingstoke hospital to raise awareness of an incurable and degenerative condition.

Amateur endurance athlete Helgi Olafson, who began suffering excruciating pain and inflammation in his lower back at the age of 19, was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) – a painful, degenerative form of inflammatory arthritis, mainly affecting the spine in 2002.

In severe cases, the condition fuses the spine together and it is an incurable condition.

In a bid to raise awareness of the condition, the athlete is leading the gruelling Pedal to the Medal cycle challenge which will see him ride 5,000 miles across the UK and Europe.

As part of his UK tour, Helgi will give an inspirational talk at Basingstoke hospital on Monday evening along with Tim Warburton, the Basingstoke chairman of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society and Cathy Boys, a senior rheumatology specialist at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

For more information, contact Cathy Boys on 01256 313117 or by email at Catherine.boys@