The Bearded Runner from Shoreham plans Mending Fences challenge, following 2020 campaign to raise awareness of male suicide

A Shoreham man who has just completed 52 half marathons in 52 weeks to raise awareness of male suicide is continuing his campaign with 32 marathons in 32 days.

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 10:42 am
Henry Ainsley, known as The Bearded Runner, on Adur Ferry Bridge in Shoreham at the start of his last half marathon for his 2020 challenge

Henry Ainsley, known as The Bearded Runner, raised around £5,000 with his 2020 challenge for Mind and Andy’s Man Club, a small charity borne out of a young man’s suicide in Henry’s home town.

He completed his last half marathon on Sunday, January 3, setting out from Adur Ferry Bridge in Shoreham.

Henry said: “It’s been a challenging year to take on a challenge, but it’s been worth it.”

For his 2021 challenge, called Mending Fences, Henry will be running from Land’s End to John O’Groats and along the way, he will be using his skills as a master carpenter to make a difference in the places he visits.

Henry said: “If you are ever feeling stuck in a hole and don’t know how to get out of it, please trust me and believe what I say when I say take that first step out that door because it will be a massive step and the most important one.

“I have struggled with my mental health my whole life and lost too many people that I love and care about to mental health.

“I was afraid that I wouldn’t get better and be able to carry on but that first step changed everything and running and knowing a difference is being made supported me and pushed me forward. Life is so full and worth fighting for.

“This year, I will be taking on the challenge of Land’s End to John O’Groats, which will be 32 marathons in 32 days. While taking on this challenge, I will be stopping in different villages and towns and do little fixing jobs, as I am a carpenter by trade.”

Throughout, Henry has tried to spread a message of hope to help suicidal men and collect funds to help prevent it.

He has been through some dark and difficult times in his life but says he has a great life now, so he wants to tell people that there is always a way out and people to support them.

Henry was one of nine children and growing up in Halifax, life was ‘far from normal’.

He said they all suffered but particularly his eldest brother, who ‘struggled in life’ and died by suicide seven years ago. He added his uncle suffered from depression and had also taken his own life the year before.

“I ended up in an abusive relationship for many years, had no self worth, put on weight and became depressed and suicidal myself. I had a breakdown and suffered from post traumatic stress.

“I had a choice, take my life or start fighting back. I struggled for two years, fighting to get through a pit of dark grey. My stubbornness got me through. Every day, I felt slightly lighter and my ups and downs evened out more.

“Running gave me an outlet, I didn’t take medication, I ran and ran, left my abusive relationship and started again, rebuilding my life brick by brick.

“I have a great life now. Enjoying working full time as a master carpenter, running in my spare time, a positive, kind partner, and undertaking this challenge.

“I train people every week in my own time, not charging, to help motivate them and help them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.”

Follow The Bearded Runner UK on Facebook for updates. Henry wants to make a difference and help, so he is happy for people to message him for support.

Anyone needing to talk can speak to the Samaritans, free and at any time. Call 116 123.

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