6 marathons on 6 continents to support men in suicidal crisis

From left to right: Chris Balfour, Henry Holme, Andrew Ross, Conor Turner

Photo credit: David Yeo © Country Life Picture Library

Can you tell us a little bit about the challenge you're taking on for James' Place?

We are attempting to run 6 marathons, in 6 days, on 6 continents, finishing at The London Marathon on Sunday 26th April. The 144 hour challenge starts at 01:00 on Tuesday 21st April in Sydney (local time). We then follow a flight route via Dubai, Cairo, Rio De Janeiro, Miami, where we will be running each marathon, before landing in London early on Sunday morning. This is a logistical challenge as well as a physical challenge, with available flights dictating where we run. Fortunately, we will be completing all runs in the morning before the heat & humidity becomes unbearable, starting between 05:00 - 07:00 local time for each marathon. 

Why did the team chose James' Place for The World Run?

Mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves, and we believe James’ Place are at the forefront of this area with their level of understanding and the innovative services that they offer. With such personal motivations behind the creation of James’ Place and The World Run, there was an immediate alignment. 

When we were considering which charity to partner with, it became immediately obvious that the money we intend to raise (£157,200 which equates to £1,000 for every mile we run) would go a lot further and help more people when working with a smaller charity such as James’ Place. When discussing the partnership further we learnt that there was an intention to open a second James’ Place, which became a very tangible motivation for us knowing that the money we raise will support James’ Place to open the second centre. 

What's going to keep you motivated as you're running each of these marathons?

Simply knowing that what we are doing will make a difference to other people's lives. There are still so many young people (predominantly men) that don’t feel comfortable talking about their feelings or emotions, or can recognise and understand the signs of depression and anxiety, which if left unaddressed can have a major impact later in life. 

When running marathons in the past, I (Henry) have been motivated knowing that however hard it may feel to keep on running, the feeling is incomparable to those that are battling with suicide. The difficulty of putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t compare to the mental battle so many have when considering suicide. 

What message would you want to give those that are struggling with their mental health, that will be following your journey throughout The World Run?

In the past, depression and anxiety have been signs of weakness, which has prevented people - specifically men who feel a responsibility to support a family or similar - from addressing their difficulties. The reality is that it affects every person at some stage in their life, the difference is that some people know how to address it, and others don’t. The World Run is being run for all of the people that don’t yet know that the strongest thing you can do is ask for help, rather than assuming you can deal with it alone.

I (Henry) genuinely see running as an antidepressant - there has never been a run that has made me feel worse afterwards than before. This can be applied across all sporting disciplines, and is a daily motivator that pushes me out the door on the days I just don’t want to do anything. 

How can others support your challenge?

We do have a fundraising page, however I’d like to invite anyone reading this to have the confidence, even if difficult at first, to either ask a friend about their mental health or reach out to a friend and share their own difficulties. The more people that can do this, the sooner the social stigma that surrounds mental health, specifically depression & anxiety in men, will be removed. The World Run fundraising page can be found by following this link: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/theworldrun

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