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“Kielder was on our To Do list”

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SO MANY PEOPLE RAN FOR VERY SPECIAL REASONS THIS YEAR AT KIELDER and Hannah Wood was one of those people. We featured her story earlier this year, and below Hannah writes a blog to bring us up to date with her Marathon experience.

On 30th November 2015, a date that will forever be etched in my memory for all the wrong reasons, I lost my partner Mark following his suicide. Mark and I shared a mutual love of running, particularly on the trails, having met through our running club Ipswich JAFFA. Following Mark’s death I and other members of the club wanted to try and raise awareness about the prevalence of male suicide as it is the leading cause of death for men under 45 in the UK and over 75% of all suicides in the UK are men. We chose a charity called CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably. They exist to prevent and raise awareness of male suicide and influence UK policies on suicide prevention. They also run a free, confidential helpline every evening which currently takes around 5000 calls/webchats a month. It can cost them £7 to receive just one Freephone call that can save a life.

We have currently raised over £3000 for CALM and even more importantly we are helping to spread the word about CALM and male suicide on social media and at all the events we run at and trying to encourage men to talk and reinforce the message that “it’s okay to not be okay”. To everyone reading this please don’t be afraid to speak up or ask for help if you’re struggling.There is no shame in doing so, and it’s one of the strongest, bravest things you can do for yourself. I wish Mark had.

So why Kielder?! Well as I mentioned, Mark was a big fan of trail running and loved being outdoors, running, walking or birdwatching. We had heard about Kielder a couple of years ago and had it on our ‘to do’ list but at the time Mark was training for the Abingdon marathon which he ran in 2:54:51 in October 2014. We sadly never got to run Kielder together and it seemed appropriate therefore for me to use it as my main fundraising event and to run it in his memory.

The race was everything I could have hoped for and more! From Events of the North featuring my story on the website, to two of my best friends at the club, Pip Wake and Kate Wooldridge agreeing (being co-erced!) to run with me, Pip’s husband Tom offering to run even though it was the week after he ran Berlin and several other club members choosing to enter as well. The scenery was every bit as breathtaking as the publicity suggested, if not more so and it is just the kind of location Mark and I loved to run in.

I was overwhelmed by how lovely everyone was and how much support we got while running round. I think you should add ‘Britain’s most friendly’ to your tag line! We were all really impressed by how slick the organisation was, and coming from race organisers ourselves we really do appreciate the work and effort that goes on behind the scenes! A particular highlight of the day was getting off the bus after the race (easier said than done!) to find Steve Cram on a walkie talkie directing traffic!

During the race, our strategy was to enjoy it as much as possible, several people were kind enough to ask about and listen to our story (including a lovely lady called Sarah), we stopped to take a number of selfies, photos of the scenery and various race signs that amused us (tight bend anyone?!) and between us we also did a pretty comprehensive study of all the toilet facilities on route (I suspect some other runners probably remember us as the Jaffa toilet ladies!) All in all it was a fantastic day and I even felt like a mini celeb getting interviewed before and after the race. For someone who didn’t really like running marathons, I now can’t wait to come back next year and do it all over again!

Finally I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in the Kielder Marathon for all your support and for helping me raise awareness and tell Mark’s story. I’m so touched people are interested, proud to have done it and know he would be too.

Hannah x

To support CALM in the lifesaving work they do, please visit www.justgiving.com/jaffamark

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