Derry man Craig Downey is to donate all the money he raises from taking part in this year’s Belfast City Marathon to a mental health charity.
Craig is the first person to pledge all proceeds from the gruelling 26.2-mile run to Action Mental Health.
The 31-year-old electrical engineer, who is originally from Derry but who now lives in Antrim, will be donning the AMH purple with pride on the bank holiday run which this year takes place on Monday, May 7.
It will be Craig’s second marathon, having already run the Lough Ness Marathon in Scotland.
Over the years, Craig has fundraised for numerous charities but this year opted to run the marathon for Action Mental Health due in part to the greater spotlight currently being shone on the issue.
But Craig, who adds weight training and CrossFit to his list of physical hobbies, also has a more personal reason for choosing a mental health charity.
“I’ve got a few family members who suffer from anxiety and I’ve suffered from anxiety myself,” he said. “I’d have weeks and months that would go by, fine, and then something would trigger it and it snowballs.
“I want to promote the fact that some men who suffer from this type of thing are afraid of speaking out, to tell anyone else about it, or of showing any weakness, physical, mental or emotional.
“My girlfriend is also a mental health nurse and it’s just the fact that this can affect all walks of life, whether you’re rich or poor or whatever, it doesn’t discriminate, same as cancer.
“I want to promote the thought that, if you are struggling, you have to take that first step and talk to someone about it.”
After deciding upon a mental health charity, he explains why he chose Action Mental Health.
“The ethos of Action Mental Health is practically word for word the same as my blurb on my Just Giving page and it’s the focus placed on the recovery of people suffering from mental health problems that appealed to me.”
Craig has already drawn up his marathon training schedule and will soon be doing forty miles per week, at least, to get into his best shape for the spring event.
“I don’t believe in putting your body through something like this without doing it all for charity,” he says. He hopes to beat his last marathon time of 3.5 hours whilst raising at least £1,000 in sponsorship.