James and Gaz will be undertaking the ridiculous challenge of trying to run 20 marathons, in 20 days, in 20 towns and cities all across the UK starting on July 14th 2020.
You can get involved too by running with us in our 20 locations or by running with us virtually via our virtual challenge we you'll be able to sign up for nearer the time. We will be running multiple loops at each location to make up the full 26.2 miles so you don't have to run a marathon to join in on the fun!
We chose Mind Charity to fundraise for because our lives have been affected by mental health issues either first hand or those we love. When we decided to run this challenge there was no other charity we considered but Mind. Running is a huge part of boosting our mental health in both our lives and we hope during this challenge we can promote and highlight the benefits running can have in your life.
Below you can read a little bit about how we met and why running became such a big part of our lives.
I think James and I couldn’t have been more different when we were younger. As far as I can remember I’ve always had running. I started when I was 10 when my brother used to take me on crazy long runs up our local hill. I become hooked, running for fun initially and then on the school and county XC team. I lived in the country side, so I used to spend most weekends either running or doing some outdoor activity, and when I was 18 I ran my first marathon.
I think most of my friends and family would say I’m a positive guy, always looking on the bright side of life. And, if I’m honest, I think running has played a huge part in that. It’s where I go to de stress and clear my mind, and I’ve also seen some of the most beautiful sights in the world while out hitting the roads or trails.
But not everyone is as lucky as me. As you know, James and I have been best mates since we met when we were 14. James was the polar opposite from me in terms of sports, but our personalities have always complimented each other and we hit it off from the start.
We were thick as thieves at school and were always there for one another.
However, when we left school, we seemed to drift a part temporarily, as can happen with busy life’s and jobs. I never realised that James was going through some really tough times mentally and I still regret today that I wasn’t there for him.
However, he found running. The simple thing of putting your kit on, stepping out of the door and just putting one foot in front of the other.
This simple thing saved James from the dark times he was having and it brought us back together.
It goes without saying, but James is now one of the most accomplished distance runners I know (something I never thought I’d say back at school) and I am so proud of him.
Thanks to running, James is out of the those dark places and we are back to our old tricks, like we were at school.
I’m hoping our running challenge next year will raise awareness that it’s ok to have some dark times but doing a simple thing like running, might be enough to make it.
I only ran a marathon because of Gaz. It’s not putting it lightly when I say that the guy who will be clocking up the miles with me in 2020 is not just a best mate, he’s my inspiration.
When we were still at school he ran the London Marathon and I still remember how his eyes lit up reimagining it. I wanted that but it would take me 10 years and a lot of pain to get there.
Gaz was my confidant when my depression first began to manifest as a teenager. I would lie on his bed and go round in circles as my mind threw roadblocks. He never lost patience, he simply listened. After 10 years of sporadic medication, therapy and understanding my triggers I believed I finally had it under control but all that changed when 2015 came crashing in.
I had multiple bereavements and had the partner I was about to start building a life together with, break my heart. I felt lost and the depression that had blanketed me for my adult life swallowed me whole.
20 stone, under motivated and lonely I no longer liked the man who looked back at me in the mirror. It seemed inescapable and unending until late one night in July I simply got up from the sofa that had become my comfort blanket, laced up a beaten up trainers and went for a run. I still don’t know what drove my to rise from my stupor but it’s not melodramatic to say that this simple one kilometre run saved my life. I was on my road to change and in that instant I became a runner.
I entered the London Marathon ballot earlier in 2015 on a whim and thought nothing more about it. It wasn’t until the October when I completed my first ever Half Marathon that I came home to find my acceptance magazine for London. •
Gaz supported me through the miles that were to come, offering advice when I need it and motivation when I lacked it. He was there at the finish line and just a month later we ran Copenhagen Marathon together.
What Gaz won’t say about himself is that he is fast, incredibly fast. A few weeks ago I watched, tears streaming down my face, as he came third in the Abingdon Marathon. His modesty and kindness is infectious and I know I‘m a better man because I have him fighting my corner.