Fierce Mind {Running} was a 42-day running challenge initially covering approximately 1680 miles —twice the distance of the length of Great Britain—for a new World Record, for mental health.

“That was Plan A. Plan A is never the plan, it’s just a plan. I finished somewhere at Plan W, which means I still completed within the plan. Result!”

What is the Fierce Mind mission?

Fierce Mind is about encouraging individuals and teams to take on extreme challenges for a relevant cause in order to raise awareness of a charity or condition, for them to recover from trauma, injury or illness, and to instil a passion and inspiration in others to help where they can.

It signifies true grit and determination, power and strength, taking decisive action and balls of fire. It also resonates with never giving up, never allowing anyone to suppress your spirit, or to ridicule your dreams.

Fierce Mind represents a force of character that comes deep from within, a strong desire to discover more from life after life has knocked you down, to push ones boundaries and comfort zones, to devote a strong link to existence, and to recognise the greatness that we all have within us.

“May my heart be kind, my mind fierce, and my spirit brave.”

What is the Fierce Mind {Running} challenge?

Back in October 2015 I came up with the idea of running for 42 days from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and back again, to set a new world record to highlight how a mental illness diagnosis does not mean you are exempt from achieving something extraordinary. Even though there are many days where you feel worthless.

YvieRoadBWCircleAveraging approximately 40 miles per day, supported by a cyclist, and a driver or two, with my nutrition planned out to the calorie, routes planned out to the pitstop, on roads, paths, and even across the West Highland Way. Very quickly, the support crew I had imagined was not a reality. It became a solo unsupported mission grabbing support wherever, and whenever, I could, whilst overcoming injuries, illness, fluctuations in mood and close calls with drivers.

The end result was 15 days’ enforced rest with 80 days on the move. Over 1790 miles including 24 ultra-marathons and 48 half-to-full marathons. I’m not afraid of mountains and trail, my first love is fell running, and I always said I’d never run a road marathon because they’re dull and boring. Whilst some roads (the country ones without the white centre line) are magical routes, running on roads without adequate footpaths is something I never want to revisit. They aren’t boring (well, they are), they are simply dangerous. I wasn’t afraid of the challenge and what it would do to me. I’ve already been to hell and back, and running isn’t it. Physically, I was pushed to my limits, training was a priority, but there is never enough training for the real thing. Mentally, I had already completed the course and was planning the next one. I’ve pulled the reins in on that idea though, because maximising this event is incredibly important, there is still so much learning, sharing, promoting, fundraising to do for the causes, I wouldn’t want any other adventure to eclipse it. That said…I have itchy feet.

IMG_20160705_193641_hdr_1_edit_1“If there’s one thing that I did accomplish, without supersonic speed or other skill, it is to show that there is absolutely no correlation between mental illness and mental weakness. There were days, dealing with what life was throwing at me on the road, where I simply felt fierce.”

OK, so why did I do this?

This run was, in one sense, a pilgrimage. I have lost my way over the past few years and I am at risk of retreating into the shell of a crushed soul. Some part of me is clinging to life with so much gusto and courage, that I have to give it a chance to see what it can do. This was that chance. Doing something that has never been done before, something that was beyond my imagination, and something that can benefit others dramatically, while hopefully helping me to find my sense of self once more.

Alongside my personal reasons, I am raising funds for Bipolar UK, Mind, SAMH, Young Minds and Place2Be during the process. This is fundamentally because peer support has been the greatest benefit for me and my family. Whilst my doctors talk medicine, medicine does not cure anguish—only empathy, understanding, discussion, psychotherapy and self-belief can help with that. This is where Bipolar UK and other mental health charities come in. I feel connected to a tribe, and I am ready to fight for that tribe. Fight stigma. Fight government bias. Fight the secrecy. I completed this challenge for all those who cannot fight for themselves: running with a fierce mind.

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