“We’ll do it for Mr Brightside”
There will be a flash of orange at the start of this year’s Kielder Marathon, as a group of very special runners from Ipswich club Jogging and Fitness for all (JAFFA) led by Hannah Wood, take to the trails.Hannah, 42, and a handful of others are making the trip from Ipswich in October to honour the life of Hannah’s talented partner Mark who sadly took his life in November 2015. They are running together in support of the CALM, a charity that exists to prevent male suicide in the UK by offering support, a helpline, culture change around getting men to seek help and pushing for changes in policy. Mark Furnace was the JAFFA cross country captain and men’s vice captain and during cross country season was always seen encouraging people to take part, announcing details about races and trying to get people involved. He regularly led group trail runs to give people a feel for off road running. As a runner he would do as much of his training off road as possible. Hannah felt Mark would have loved Kielder and that doing the race is a great way to honour him. A talented runner, Mark had a marathon PB of 2:56, and ran a 1:20 Half marathon the week before he died. Hannah felt Kielder would be a fitting tribute.
Mum of two Hannah told us:
I wanted to choose one specific event to be my fundraising focus and Kielder seemed entirely appropriate, being a distance I wouldn’t normally choose to run, in a setting Mark would have loved and indeed had talked about doing himself too.
Mark and I met through JAFFA running club. I still remember when during a club training session in the park, I had this sudden realisation that this guy was very special and the bond we immediately felt. When we got together I felt I had found a soulmate, my “one” , someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I was and still am incredibly proud to be his partner and treasure the time we had together, cut short far too soon. In public he was a very vibrant outgoing person and the life and soul of the party who loved a drink and dance and to have fun, but behind the scenes was very sensitive and unsure of himself and his own abilities. He was very caring, conscientious and hardworking and a devoted father to his two children Ellie and Harley.Hannah has been running for over ten years and loves cross country and trail running. Hannah has an impressive Half Marathon PB of 1:37 and Marathon best of 4:11. Hannah and Mark shared a love of the outdoors and regularly went walking, running and took part in many endurance events together. Mark also recently attended navigation courses and was beginning to plan fell running, ultra and multi day events some time this year with a friend from the club. A vibrant personality, Mark earned the nickname Mr Brightside after attending a Club presentation in a bright orange suit with the club logo printed on, where Mark was named Club Personality of the year. Hannah told us:
Running has been a vital coping mechanism for me since Mark’s death as despite it being something we did together and reminding me of him, I have always used it as an emotional support tool and if I can get myself out of the door, I inevitably feel better after going for a run. I may cry my eyes out throughout, but in a therapeutic way and I find it helps being outside in the countryside doing the things we loved. I have become heavily involved behind the scenes. As a UKA qualified coaching assistant I help with the juniors, sit on the committee and I am assistant Race Director for a handful of races.
Hannah credits the support of the club who together will raise money throughout the year for CALM and honoured Mark by dedicating a cross country fixture to him as well as holding a minute’s silence at the race. Together, the JAFFA group will run in vests emblazoned with a fun windswept selfie Mark had taken which Hannah feels sums up his silly side.
Hannah told us:
I would beg anyone (male or female) reading this who has had similar thoughts to Mark or who is finding it hard to cope, to reach out to someone – the Samaritans, an organisation like CALM, your GP, a trusted friend or family member. Even if all you can say is “I can’t cope” taking that first step, telling someone and asking for help, is one of the most important things you can ever do for yourself. There are no magic cures and it won’t be an easy ride, but if you can take that first step, you can begin the journey to get well again. And it is about getting well. Mental health is as much an illness as cancer. It is as much of a hard journey to survive, but it is survivable. More importantly you are not alone. Telling people, admitting it, will undoubtably lead to conversations or messages from other people saying – I’ve been there or I’m going through that too. If raising awareness can stop just one more family going through what we are going through then Mark’s death will not have been in vain.
We wish Hannah and the rest of the Jaffa runners a wonderful experience at Kielder and the very best of luck with their fundraising.
To donate please visit https://www.justgiving.com/JaffaMark and for more information on the work done by CALM visit https://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/what-is-calm/
Mark Furnace 29.01.72 – 30.11.15
Love you to the moon and back
RIP babe xxx