Trail, fell and ultra-marathon runner Ben Robertson tells us about his battle with mental health and the role the outdoors has played in his recovery. Read on to find out more about his inspirational story this #WorldMentalHealthDay…
Spending as much time as I can in the wild – trail running, hiking, and Obstacle Course Racing, I have always had a taste for all things adventure.
On the outside people see me as a fun, sociable, and active guy with an obsession for all things outdoors. But after years of personal struggles and divorce, my mental and physical condition started to deteriorate. I was admitted to hospital several times with exhaustion and stress. After coming home from a normal days work, I had reached my limit. With my judgement clouded by negativity and exhaustion, I attempted to end my life.
Thankfully I survived to tell the tale and my recovery has been astounding. So astounding in fact that, aided by my love for trail running and pretty much anything involving mud, hills, rivers, and vast countryside, I am often found running round the tops of the peak district carrying a car tyre, promoting the life-saving benefits of running and general ‘green time’. I have taken to using a heavy car tyre as a visual representation of the extra weight we can all carry, which unlike the tyre, is not usually visible.
By doing this I am getting people engaged in conversations about mental health. Through using my own experiences, I hope to encourage others to become less worried about the typically taboo subject, aswell as helping people to feel that it’s ok to share their struggles and ultimately get the help they need.
I often go by the name of ‘GetOutGetMuddy’, reflecting the simple mantra I try to live by. As I always say “Clothes wash, grazed knee’s heal, but memories last“. My second chance at life has not only made me stand up and live my life to the full, through my passion for running in the great outdoors, but also has made me more dedicated to helping folks realise there is hope and a future. I always try share how outdoor fitness has helped me and can help others.
In October 2018, I completed solo four ultra-marathons in just four days – running from Southport to Hornsea (approx. 140miles) raising money for the leading mental health awareness charity, Mind. I have run and planned to complete many endurance events, which help me with my ongoing recovery, ranging from the Rat Race The Wall (a 69 mile, 1 day ultra run), regional fell, and trail events right through to the annual coal carrying championships (a 1km uphill race involving carrying a 50kg(8st) sack of coal).
Following on from my ultra challenge, this October I will be attempting the challenge aptly named ‘Coals to Newcastle’. I’ll be running from my home on the edge of the peak district to my birthplace of Newcastle (approx. 128 miles) towing a 25kg sack of coal.
To find out more about Ben and his journey, head over to his Instagram page – @GetOutGetMuddy
For help with getting outside safely, head to https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/covid/
And, for more amazing stories on how getting outside can help to manage your headspace, go to https://www.mountainsforthemind.co.uk/