ARC’s Gary to run five marathons in five days wearing a 22lb vest
A local man who overcame addiction and set up a fitness programme to help others struggling with substance misuse is to run five marathons in five days.
Gary Rutherford, founder and project director of ARC Fitness, will be running 131 miles to raise awareness of ARC’s ‘No Shame’ campaign.
Gary, who is a registered mental health nurse and qualified personal trainer, will be taking on the mammoth challenge whilst wearing a 22lb vest to symbolise the heavy burden of shame that often acts as a barrier to recovery.
ARC Fitness was founded in 2019 as a passion project for Gary who found that fitness was an essential part of his own recovery. It has recently gone full time and thanks to funding from the National Lottery hopes to assist 120 people in the next two years.
The non-profit, social enterprise supports individuals and their loved ones in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction through learning, coaching, physical activity and community support.
The group’s ‘No Shame’ campaign seeks to change the conversation that surrounds addiction and challenge the existing stigma, shame, discrimination, and blame that can often stop someone from seeking the support that is available to them.
It was launched earlier this week and Gary said he is excited at the “potential breakthrough that we believe it could be for anyone struggling with substance misuse”.
“I myself suffered from addiction for the better part of 15 years and one of the biggest barriers for me in seeking out the available support was shame. It felt like a weight around my neck that constantly kept me down.
“Breaking that shame was such a vital step in my journey to recovery.”
Gary added that ARC Fitness hope to “humanise addiction, empower individuals on their journey to sobriety, and spread messages of hope to show that recovery is possible, one step at a time” through the campaign.
“Since the campaign launched, the amount of people engaging with it has just been unbelievable. It is starting to instigate a conversation.”
The local man has been training for the five marathons, which he will run between May 24 and 28, for the last couple of months.
“I am kind of used to running with the vest at the minute, but wearing it continuously for five days will be a huge challenge.
“I had said I would never run a marathon again, never mind running five while wearing a vest weighing nearly two stone!”
Other elements of the campaign include a new podcast, The Recovery Position, that consists of a series of hard-hitting, yet positive, chats on addiction and recovery.
It is run by two men who have completed the ARC Fitness programme and are now peer support workers in the group.
There will also be a series of video-based conversations between five men who have battled addiction.
To find out more about ARC or the ‘No Shame’ campaign visit https://arcfitness.co.uk/.