The vest worn by the Waterside man symbolised the heavy burden of shame that often acts as a barrier to recovery for people struggling with substance misuse.
Gary, a registered mental health nurse, struggled with substance misuse himself for over 15 years and found that exercise was a vital part of his recovery.
He founded ARC Fitness, a non profit addiction recovery service, in March 2019 and the ‘no shame’ campaign has sought to start a conversation about addiction and challenge the existing stigma, shame, discrimination, and blame.
Gary, who had previously vowed never to run a marathon again, said that the five day challenge was tough.
“It was physically and emotionally tough because it was so uncomfortable wearing the vest. As hard as it was, the people around me and the people coming out to support me actually helped me.
“At the end of the second day I was sore. I put it down to just wearing the vest but then it was just getting worse as the running went on,” Gary said.
“I went to A&E earlier this week and it was x-rayed and I have a vertical fracture on my fibia.”
Gary said his challenge has started so many conversations about addicition in the city.
“People were coming up and talking to us about their issues and that was really, really good. To see the power of community happening in real time during that week and seeing people reach out for help was brilliant.”
ARC have recently secured new premises on the Bay Road to allow them to develop their programmes further.