When and why did you decide to run the Hackney Half marathon?
“Every year my partner Andre and I like to set ourselves a new challenge. Last year we did Tough Mudder which was really hard and took four hours! We wanted to stretch our fitness levels and considered the marathon, but thought we would do a half marathon this year.”
What made you choose to support Centre for Mental Health?
“When I decided to run the Hackney Half, I knew I wanted to run for a cause close to my heart. I googled mental health charities and specifically ones doing work around young black men’s mental health. I was really interested to see the work the Centre is doing around young African-Caribbean men’s resilience. I also tragically experienced a loss of a dear friend due to mental health problems. This also motivated me to raise money and awareness for this cause. The team at the Centre have been so encouraging as I prepared for the run and I’ve appreciated the way they’ve kept in contact – they’ve been really helpful! When I was deciding who to run for, I wanted to find a smaller charity who might have less exposure, but who would benefit from whatever I could raise.”
Why do you think mental health research is important?
“What people at Centre for Mental Health do is so important. Mental health problems are still so taboo in this culture, and showing people the evidence and proof about them is the only way people will change. Mental health is important because it’s your very sense of wellbeing.
“Mental health research is so important. It’s really sad how much evidence we have, and yet it’s not being regarded as an issue – why aren’t things changing? Especially when children are exposed to these issues at a young age – and then we wonder why young African Caribbean men are struggling?!”
What were your experiences of training and taking on the half marathon on the day itself?
“Training was really hard, it actually challenged my wellbeing. I’m quite in touch with my feelings; I know you can’t just pretend to be okay. But that really helped in training because sometimes I really didn’t want to go out and train, and so it was about pushing myself and training my mind, not allowing myself to give up when I couldn’t be bothered to do a run. It was about not having a separation between my mind and my body.
“Running the Hackney Half was amazing – I can only describe it like running through Notting Hill Carnival! It’s not a ‘beautiful’ place to run exactly, but the atmosphere was fantastic. Afterwards I felt amazing; the energy of the crowd and those running was incredible – little kids holding banners and everyone cheering. It was incredible to see people being so kind, people I don’t know cheering me on. It was overwhelming.”
What would you say to others who are thinking about fundraising for Centre for Mental Health?
“I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was so encouraging to see the Centre tweeting about it, even your Chief Executive tweeted! I wish now that I’d done something even tougher because of all the encouragement I received from the Centre. That really helped me, too. I was running for my friend, Filipa but I was also kind of running for myself in that respect.”
Be part of the story through raising money for Centre for Mental Health – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.