Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Mental Health Awareness Week and 44 marathons

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week – and now only one week to go until Peter Thompson concludes his Marathons for the Mind challenge. Since April 1st 2017, running enthusiast Peter Thompson has been pursuing an epic adventure to raise money and awareness for mental health. He has been attempting to run an incredible 44 marathons in 44 days – a marathon within every country in Europe – on behalf of the charities Livability and MIND.

The challenge started on 1st April 2017. Starting in Russia, the challenge has seen him run every country in Europe, with Dublin being his chosen finale city. The challenge has attracted wide media coverage and attention on social media, with personalities like Stephen Fry, Dame Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe sharing their support.

Using a combination of trains, planes and automobiles, Pete has been running the challenge solo – joined with some special friends and supporters along the way. To travel light and keep things simple, Pete has had ice baths by buying frozen peas from the local supermarkets each day, and dried his running socks with the hotel hair drier.

Peter Thompson has to have ice baths using frozen peas from the local supermarket in his Marathons for the Mind challenge.

Daily updating his followers on social media of that day’s adventures and challenges, Pete has continued to blog and write about the challenge with both honesty and dedication. The point of the challenge? To raise awareness and money for mental health.

Peter Thompson said: β€˜In terms of my own experiences of mental health I have had many friends and family members who have and who still suffer from, a variety of mental health conditions. I have seen how debilitating this can be, and how frustrating it can be to see services stretched and the right support often extremely hard to come by. I would not want to belittle or patronise people with long term mental health issues by suggesting I have suffered seriously myself, but like most of us I can say that I have certainly experienced moments and periods of my life where I feel I have had to reach out for the support of others. This has been more apparent within the last year or so and this challenge is very much a way for me to move forward and take a positive outcome from these experiences.’

Peter has been inspired by one Livability’s centres called ‘Livability – Holton Lee’, a wellbeing discovery centre in Poole, Dorset, which delivers a gardening therapy project called Flourish.

Flourish is a gardening therapy programme for disabled people and people living with mental illness. Using the gardens in the expansive wellbeing discovery centre of Livability Holton Lee – activities include horticulture, conservation, woodworking and garden maintenance.

As a staff member at a local support service in Poole, Peter has seen the impact that the Flourish project has had on the people he has referred to the project. It supports 60 people each week and helps people grow in confidence, new skills, well being and friendships. 98% of people that attended Flourish in a year reported an increase in social connections.

Throughout the challenge, the people that take part in the Flourish project have sent daily messages of support. In this final week of Marathons for the Mind, from everyone at Livability – we wish Pete the very best.