This weekend four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington will be racing the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon for Epilepsy Society and Cancer Research UK.
“I decided to run because it takes me a full circle to the place where my passion for endurance sports was born – London Marathon 2002 – and to be a role model for my daughter,” she says. “I also craved a new challenge that didn’t involve a big swim or bike beforehand!”
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Chrissie and all the other runners will be given a royal send-off by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who are the event’s official race starters. They will also be joined by double Olympic rowing gold medallists Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
Their Royal Highnesses are spearheading the Heads Together campaign to end stigma and change the conversation on mental health for everyone. They have pledged to make this year’s race ‘the mental health marathon’ and are encouraging runners, whatever great cause they are supporting, to wear the blue Heads Together headband that will be given to them when they collect their race number.
For 220 columnist Tim Heming, who is running the Marathon in aid of the mental health charity Mind, this campaign is close to his heart:
“Dear old Bob Hoskins was telling us It’s Good To Talk in TV ads over 20 years ago, but that stiff upper lip British stoicism still prevails with so many of us… particularly blokes.
“That’s why it was refreshing to hearing the princes speak out this week on how repressing emotions over their mum’s death led to mental health problems. Harry and William’s words show mental health is clearly no respecter of privilege, and while the attitude of “There will always always be someone worse off than me” might be laudable, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your own well-being.
“It’s also great to see 2017’s London labelled the ‘Mental Health Marathon’ and charities like Mind, Rethink and Heads Together do some outstanding work in trying to break stigma – both improving and saving lives.
“I know from my own experience that you cannot tackle everything alone. Trying to fix the bit that’s broken with the very bit that’s broken, isn’t so easy. Professional help is important but not always easily accessible, so an ear to bend, or a shoulder to cry on, can be a lifeline.
“Ps. I apologise in advance for the fetching blue headband.”
Depression: a triathlete’s experience
You can support Tim and donate here
The Royals’ Heads Together campaign aims to end the stigma around mental health and change the national conversation on mental health and wellbeing. Earlier in the week Prince Harry opened up to Bryony Gordon from The Telegraph about his own experiences and seeking counselling to help him come to terms with his mother’s death Download the podcast here
The three Royals will push a giant button at exactly 10:00am to send 35 elite men and more than 39,000 mass race runners on their 26.2-mile journey from Shooters Hill in south east London to Westminster.
Among the elite athletes who will be racing will be Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele, two-time world champion Abel Kirui, two-time London Marathon women’s champion Mary Keitany, and the current men’s and women’s world champions, Ghirmay Ghebreslassie and Mare Dibaba.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old supermum Jo Pavey is just one of 19 of the best British distance runners in the country who will be vying for a handful of coveted places on the nation’s marathon team for this summer’s World Athletics Championships in London.
There will also be more than 70 para-athletes competing in the fourth World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup, including reigning wheelchair champion Marcel Hug and Boston Marathon winner Manuela Schär, plus Britain’s six-times Paralympic champion David Weir who’s going for a record seventh London Marathon victory.
The elites will be followed by thousands of club athletes, including Helen Glover & Heather Stanning, double Olympic rowing gold medallists