As you may or may not know, mental health is quite close to my heart. This year I really wanted to take some big steps towards my dream of working for a mental health charity and thought what better to do this than by volunteering with Mind at the marathon.
When I arrived there were a few Mind workers who really could not have been more friendly. Slowly but surely more people joined, most of which were just random people like you and I who wanted to encourage those much fitter than ourselves!
Something I didn’t realise at first but now makes total sense, is the race is staggered depending on which category you fit into. The first we saw go past where those in a wheelchair which looked harder than the actual running! This was followed by other disabled athletes, such as those with one arm. You see these people competing in sport on T.V., but I really don’t think it does them enough justice. It’s only in real life it puts things into perspective about their determination regardless of their disabilities.
We then saw blind runners with their guides, either running beside them or attached via a little rope. This really struck a cord with me. The athletic ability to complete a marathon collaborated with the pressure to keep up with the actual runner? Wow.
From then on it was predominantly members of the public who had bravely (although I’m sure many of them would say stupidly after the first few miles and they could barely breathe!) decided to part take it the annual event which helps SO many people.
We cheered everybody on and it was lovely when people had their names on their tops. This way we could make our cheers and chants more personal with “You’re doing great Paul/Steve and Dave” being the most common!
The first Mind runner I saw made me a bit emotional (in a good way). I guess it was because mental health is still a taboo for some people and still is so neglected by society, yet out of ALL the charities these people could have picked to raise money for, they chose Mind. They too see the importance of mental health.
Mind runners got extra cheering though with Lauren (a lady who works for Mind) giving us the heads up when she saw one approaching. If we heard her say “Mind runner coming”, we would go nuts! We had clappers and our voices (although I started to sound a bit too husky after about 4 hours). The majority of them saw us and it was lovely to put a smile on their face. For some it got them to go from walking to running again because it was obviously that burst of motivation they needed. I think our location was great as well – Mile 25. Just over a mile before the end. Possibly the toughest bit I’d imagine.
One woman even came over for a selfie and I thought it was the cutest when one guy gave his wife a smooch and a hug before he head off again.
There were obviously some quirky costumes throughout the day, Superman’s, Batman’s, a man with a washing machine on his back, a Jesus with a crucifix running with NO SHOES and my personal favourite; men dressed as toilets.
Supporting those who were running to raise money to support others, and feeling as much part of the event as the runners themselves (though with a lot less effort) was a huge privilege and something I would recommend to anyone.