AXMINSTER resident Jon Wood completed a ‘virtual’ version of the London Marathon earlier this month raising hundreds of pounds for mental health charity Dorset MIND.
Having suffered from depression and anxiety himself, Jon says that running is one of the things that helps keep his mental health on track – that and his real ‘black dog’ Thaddeus who often joins him when he is out jogging.
A former maths teacher, Jon gave up working in the classroom as he was suffering from severe anxiety.
He later worked in the City of London but this added to his mental health difficulties so he and his family eventually moved to Devon.
Although he continues to tutor maths privately, Jon now works for Lyme Regis-based company SIL (Supported Independent Living) Ltd, which provides supported living accommodation to some of society’s most misunderstood and vulnerable – a job he says resonates with him considering his own mental health journey.
Dad-of-three Jon has previously completed the London Marathon three times but, ahead of Sunday’s event, he said he was expecting this to be the toughest yet, with the hilly terrain and no supporters lining the streets to spur him on.
Although named a ‘virtual marathon’, Jon assured there was certainly nothing ‘virtual’ about it and he completed the challenge with a little help from Thaddeus, so far raising £700 for Dorset MIND.
Jon said: “I got my opportunity to run ‘virtually’ by approaching a charity that supports those who struggle, like I have – Dorset MIND.
“Dorset MIND is a pioneering local charity that has been supporting people with mental health challenges since 1946. They educate, challenge mental health stigma and inequality and promote recovery by empowering individuals to develop resilience.
“Their one-to-one and group support services help people regain social skills, confidence and self-esteem. They also deliver educational wellbeing programmes for schools and workplaces and provide volunteer opportunities.
“How I could have benefitted had I have known about them 27 years ago. To say I don’t still struggle wouldn’t be true, but I certainly am in a different place to where I was back then.
“The antidepressants have gone and instead I have an actual black dog called Thaddeus Streum Lignorum (Thaddi for short!). He’s energetic, loving and the best company when I pound the streets in the morning.
“He’s the best reason to get out of bed and he’s much better looking than the ‘black dog’ I was living with before.
“Without the running and my real life black dog Thaddi, things might still be very different for me. But I’m thankful that things have shifted and I’m hoping that in running this year’s London Marathon for Dorset MIND I can help it shift for others too.”
You can sponsor Jon and help him reach his target of £1,000 for Dorset MIND at https://bit.ly/3v5Ctlw
While Jon was pounding the streets in Devon, Axminster’s Flamingo Pool manager Steve Buxton was among the thousands to complete the marathon in London, taking in the city’s iconic landmarks along the way.
Completing the race in five hours, 42 minutes and six seconds, Steve has so far raised more than £2,300 for the charity-run Flamingo Pool.
You can still sponsor Steve at https://bit.ly/3avKzdA
Axe Valley Runners member Caroline French also completed the London Marathon in aid of Axminster and Lyme Cancer Support.
Caroline completed the course in four hours and 13 minutes, raising £250 for the cancer charity.
She said: “It was a very emotional experience, most definitely one to remember. There’s something extremely special about being surrounded by thousands of people all running for their own reasons and being cheered on by complete strangers that just want to help spur you on.
“The support from the crowds and the charities throughout the course is unbelievable and really does take your breath away. It was a privilege just to be there and will remember it forever.
“I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to make a small donation to Axminster and Lyme Cancer Support thanks to my supporters and I know that any support they receive in funds will be well used, thank you for all the work they are doing.”