Samaritans wants to motivate more people to get active to improve their mental wellbeing, rather than focus on a physical endurance challenge that requires participants to run 26.2 miles in one stretch. That’s why ‘Samarathon’ invites the nation to go at their own pace, take part this summer and raise money to help us be there for those struggling to cope.
Cathy Shipton, who is well known for playing Duffy in the BBC’s medical drama series Casualty is taking part in the challenge, said: “I’m supporting Samaritans’ Samarathon 2020 because since the #stayhomesavelives advice was issued, l realise they’ll be under extra pressure during the lockdown from people who are struggling to cope. They’re also doing an amazing job providing another channel of support for all NHS frontline workers too. Funds are vital and Samarathon is a healthy way to help.”
Broadcaster and journalist Charlie Webster is also supporting Samarathon, she said: “I’m supporting Samarathon because Samaritans is needed right now more than ever. Running isn’t about banishing mental health illness (like depression or PTSD – I have both) but it can help to cope with overwhelming feelings. Running is something I’ve always used since I was younger to help me with my mental wellbeing, it’s far from just a physical activity. Samarathon is helping to fund the helpline so it can help those in crisis feel less alone.”
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “While we don’t know how long we’ll be observing social distancing and Government guidance on daily exercise, this is a challenge you can do on your own, with members of your household, or join with friends, family and work mates virtually, supporting each other’s progress wherever you are.
“Now more than ever we know getting active works wonders for your mental health. Samarathon is a great goal to motivate people to go at that their own pace. Whatever your age or ability, it’s a challenge, to do in your time, at your pace, wherever you live or work. This fitness-fundraising initiative is focused on feeling good. We hope supporters will encourage their friends and family of all ages to take part as an achievable challenge they can share and enjoy.”
“In this current climate we really need the public’s continued support. Due to the cancellation of many of our fundraising events, we’re facing a significant loss of funding, so we’re urging the public to help us ensure that we continue to be here for anyone who needs support.”
Registration is now open, via the dedicated website https://samarathon.samaritans.org/, and is launching just days before the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. With this year’s theme ‘kindness’, Samaritans is calling on people to be kind to themselves in getting fit and healthy, as well as being kind enough to raise valuable funds to ensure Samaritans can help those who are struggling.
Blackpool Samaritans listening volunteer Alex Dodd, who has a love of running, is signed up to Samarathon. She said: “I love running as it helps me relax and clear my head and lets me eat guilt free pizza!
“Samarathon is going to be a fun challenge for me. It’s flexible and you can wrap the challenge around your life. In this lockdown I’m working in my studio as an artist plus I’ve stepped up to do more shifts at my local Samaritans branch. While I’ve been furloughed in my paid job things are pretty busy for me. Samarathon will be a challenge for me but a welcome break from my routine. Hopefully my dog Arnie will even get involved too. I’ll feel proud when I’ve achieved it.”
Trainee Samaritan Hayley Rivens is taking on her second Samarathon, she said her first one was life-changing in many ways: “I decided to take on Samarathon last year in memory of my beautiful mum who lost her life by suicide. After completing the challenge, I decided to sign up to be a listener on the phones. I am in the middle of my training and my fellow trainees decided to form a team so we can raise money and show our support for this worthwhile charity. I’m pushing myself further this year and decided I’m going to do two marathons in the month of July.”