Sussex Newspapers group arts editor and marathon runner Phil Hewitt is beating back the demons with a new book which celebrates the massive mental health benefits of running.
He will be talking to West Sussex Writers about his experiences writing the book, Outrunning The Demons (Bloomsbury, 2019), on January 9.
As Phil says: “Running can take us to fantastic places. Just as importantly, it can also bring us back from terrible ones. For people in times of crisis, trauma and physical or mental illness – when normality collapses – running can put things back together again.”
After watching a cricket match in Cape Town, South Africa, three years ago, Phil was mugged – stabbed, punched, kicked and effectively left for dead in a grim, desolate suburb.
Astonishingly, just as he could feel himself starting to drift away, he was scooped up and whisked to hospital by a passing pizza delivery driver. Two deep stab wounds, 18 stitches, three broken ribs, battered liver and stomach, bruised all over.
Phil resolved to put himself back together again by getting back to his first love, running…. And it proved a remarkable way to outrun the demons of PTSD and his blood-soaked pavement. Which is why it became the title of his new book – Outrunning The Demons.
In it, Phil tells of his own experiences and their aftermath – and also interviews 34 people from around the world who, as he says, have been to hell and discovered that the surest, safest, quickest way back was to run. He interviewed people caught up in 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing; people who have lost loved ones to murder and natural causes; people who have suffered addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, violent and sexual assault; sheer bad luck – and even a nose-diving jet.
Video - see Phil talk about the knife attack
The result is a remarkable collection of stories about hope and survival – an uplifting celebration of the strength of the human spirit and all the good that is unleashed simply through running.
The book is available here
Phil will discuss what happened to him, how he put the book together and how writing the book helped him navigate the trauma of that day in Cape Town.
The West Sussex Writers meeting will take place 7.30pm on Thursday, January 9 at the Church Hall, Goring Methodist Church, Bury Drive, Goring, BN12 4XB. Tickets £5 for non-members, £3 for members. For more information: www.westsussexwriters.co.uk.