A remarkable story: Dave’s 60 marathons for his 60th year… (Part 1)
Recently we had the pleasure of meeting the inspirational Dave Honeywell, who is running 60 marathons to mark his 60th year. Dave is a University lecturer, athlete and all round superstar. We caught up with Dave as he approaches his 20th marathon to find out how it’s all going.
Tell us about your ongoing challenge raising funds for Manchester Mind
My name’s Dave, and after turning 60 I decided to set myself the challenge to run 60 marathons in aid of Manchester Mind. Their work is something very close to my heart, because of my own lifelong struggles with my mental health. I fell into running at school, and it immediately became a way for me to battle against depression. To this day, I still use it as my most powerful anti-depressant and it’s a huge part of my life.
Turning 60 last year, made me want to do something special to celebrate this milestone in my life. As running has always been a constant for me, I thought of this mega challenge, raising essential funds for Manchester Mind in the process. Keeping fit and healthy is of course a huge bonus alongside everything else!
How and why has running been important when managing your own mental health?
Growing up, I was always very nervous, anxious and sensitive. When my parents went through a messy divorce, my previous struggles became elevated and I started suffering from depression.
I grew up in the North-East of England, where young boys were expected to show toughness and manliness, and at times it felt there was no place for a timid and shy young boy like me. I was bullied at school by the ‘bigger’ boys because I had no interest in playing team sports, such as football. My confidence and self-esteem were so lacking that I would deliberately avoid PE and sports at school to escape the mocking and taunting from my peers.
It was only when, by chance, a teacher’s words inspired me to start running…‘Keep going Honeywell, you’ll be a champ one day’. His words helped me realise running was something I was really good at – it gave me a sense of freedom and escapism that I had never experienced before. To this day, the teacher’s encouragement has stuck with me. As a University lecturer, I understand the positive effect that words of encouragement can have on students, and I’ll never forget the role this teacher played in transforming my life.
The newfound confidence helped me incorporate health and fitness into my life. At 17 I joined the army, which gave me with structure and discipline to keep training and getting fitter and stronger. To this day, running remains a key part of my life.
What challenges and obstacles have you faced along your journey?
I’m approaching my 20th marathon now since I started this challenge. One thing I’ve found is that running marathons can be quite lonely. I initially started running my marathons round the streets of Manchester where there’s no race atmosphere that I’m used to and no one else taking part. These runs left me feeling very isolated, as I’d be running solo for four hours straight. I decided to only take part in official marathons as I can, as you get a collective sense of motivation and the buzz of the supporting atmosphere. I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way already, many of whom have kindly donated to my page and taken part in runs with me.
I’m now two months into my challenge and constantly tweaking and refining my itinerary to suit my other commitments, but also my own physical capabilities. It’s important to be mindful of your limitations as well as your abilities. Recently, I’ve also been struggling with a slight physical niggle in my big toe which has since been confirmed as osteoarthritis. I’m viewing it as a journey rather than an immediately achievable goal. It might take a little longer than originally planned, but I’m removing any unnecessary pressure from myself. The challenge has always been to complete the 60 marathons. As with any journey, there’ll be ups and downs, but I’m definitely in a better place than when I started, and raising funds for such an important charity certainly spurs me on.
I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m channeling that confidence I found as a teenager to keep running, keep fundraising and to tell everyone my story.
If you feel inspired by Dave’s story and would like to donate, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/page/davidhoneywells60marathonchallenge
We will look forward to catching up again with Dave and sharing more news here towards the end of his epic charity challenge, so watch this space…and keep going Dave, our charity legend!
Photo: Courtesy of Mick Hall photos