Marathon runner and mental health campaigner, Pete Thompson, has set one of the world’s most famous endurance tests in his sights – but it’s one that’s normally the preserve of the professional cyclist.
On 19th May – with a seven week head start on the riders – Pete will set off from the Vendee, aiming to run (not cycle) the entire Tour de France course in just 70 days.
His Marathons for the Mind challenge equates to an ultra marathon a day (30 miles). In total he will run all 21 stages of the grueling route, covering 2,069 miles and 27,000 metres of hill climbs; all with the professional riders biting at his ankles.
Pete, who comes from Bournemouth, is raising money for two mental health charities, Mind and Livability – a disability charity that connects people with their communities. Pete has also chosen to support his local branch of Mind, Dorset Mind. They educate and provide support towards positive mental health for people in Pete’s home county.
Last year Pete raised £19,000 for mental health charities when he ran 44 marathons in 44 countries, winning a regional Pride of Britain Award along the way. This year he’s upped the ante somewhat and by the end of the route will have climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest over three times.
The reason why Pete is running the Tour…
Pete Thompson said, “I know many people who have serious mental health issues. Some have tried to take their own lives and others battle through with determination and courage that I admire greatly. I have seen people at their lowest and I have seen the stigma they face, coupled with the lack of support when they need it most.
“The mental health focus started, and is still very much for these people. It has however also helped me to better understand and talk more openly about my own mental health. In a way that I think it is important for us all to try and do. I’m someone who feels on top of the world one day, and wants to hide away the next. I never used to speak to anyone about this and what happens during these periods of self isolation. How I disengage and alienate the people closest to me. We all have mental health, like we have physical health. By talking more openly about it, we develop understanding and, importantly, help to educate.”
What does this mean for Dorset Mind?
Marianne Storey, Dorset Mind’s Chief Executive, comments “Dorset Mind is proud to be associated with this amazing challenge on so many levels. We followed Pete last year during his incredible ‘44 marathons in 44 days in 44 countries,’ and wondered how he’d top that challenge. He’s certainly raised the bar even further this year. For Dorset Mind this is immensely positive, to see a local man who’s achieved so much for mental health choose to fundraise for us. Pete’s challenge also highlights the benefits of physical exercise and wellbeing in relation to mental health. And with the coverage that Pete attracts, this will in turn help increase awareness. It will certainly also benefit the work we do across Dorset to educate and support people towards positive mental health. We’re very grateful to Pete for this and will support him every one of the 2,069 miles!“
Rob Blackstone, Regional Manager for Livability, said: “Pete’s epic challenge and his support for Livabilty works on so many levels. Both locally, for the participants at Livability’s Flourish project, who will be supporting him every mile of the way, and on a national level – his work to increase awareness of mental health issues by taking on the Tour De France is truly inspirational. His efforts will support Flourish and the people that use the service; without the vital tools and resources in our garden, the project simply can’t run. The project works to put the elements in place that add up to better connections, greater wellbeing, improved confidence and fun.”
Bon chance Pete!
Karen Bolton, Head of Community and Events Fundraising for Mind, said: “We’re so grateful to Pete for his continued support for Mind through his extraordinary fundraising efforts. Not only is this a monumental challenge in itself, but it has the potential to highlight to a wider audience the importance of opening up the conversation around mental health. Every step Peter takes will make a big difference to Mind as all funds raised will help fund our vital work. This includes the Mind Infoline, our advice services and the campaigning Mind does to secure a better deal for the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem every year. We wish Pete ‘bon chance’ for the road ahead!”