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366 miles in one week for Clonard man Brian

ON THE ROAD: Brian McGeown is running 366-miles in seven days in memory of Michael Cullen ON THE ROAD: Brian McGeown is running 366-miles in seven days in memory of Michael Cullen
By Staff Reporter

A Clonard man has embarked on a gruelling 366-mile run in a bid to raise funds and awareness for a local mental health charity.

Brian McGeown began his seven-day challenge on Monday and will cover the equivalent of 14 marathons during the course of the week in aid of 33 ‘Til Infinity, a charity that was set up in memory of North Belfast man Michael Cullen, who died suddenly last year.

His journey will take him right across the six-counties, but Brian jokingly admits that he “hates running”. However, he says that he hopes his run will raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide.

“I’ve done several charitable runs in the past, but my main inspiration has been kids who have a certain condition and affliction and their parents seem quite helpless,” he explains.

“I felt I couldn’t really help them in any way, so the only thing I could think of was to run to raise money for the charities that help them. I hate running, but it’s the only way I could help – I can’t do anything like a doctor would do or a counsellor would do.

“Unfortunately depression, anxiety, suicide and mental health issues are getting worse in Northern Ireland, especially around West Belfast and North Belfast, which is really, really sad. For many people they don’t feel like they can talk to anyone or that they can speak up, because there’s still a lot of stigma attached to it, which is wrong.

“We all go through issues, we all have problems – others might be better able to deal with them; men in particular struggle to open up, but we all need to offload. If you have a toothache you’ll go to the dentist before it falls out, if you have a sore leg you’ll go to the doctor before it breaks, but people ignore every sign from their minds that they need help.

“It will help you in the long run and there is help available. There are charities that do it for free and they offer an amazing service. I myself have availed of it. I went to see a counsellor when I was having a tough time of it, and somebody took me aside and said ‘you need help’ and I’m glad I did, otherwise I might have been more unfortunate.

“Depression is indiscriminate, whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, it can affect everyone. It’s important to be sympathetic to someone in that situation, because it could be you, your best friend or family member that needs that help. Hopefully, this run will be able to raise more awareness about these issues.”

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