Gary Rutherford has already run two marathons and a third is currently underway.
He will run two further marathons this week while wearing a 22lb weighted vest, to symbolise the heavy burden of shame that often acts as a barrier to recovery.
The Waterside man launched ARC, a fitness based addiction recovery service, in 2019.
Gary struggled with addiction for around 15 years and he found that fitness was an essential part of his own recovery.
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.
Gary had been training for the challenge for 21 weeks and is receiving support from a small group of ARC members, who are running small chunks of the marathons with him.
Gary has described the response to the ‘no shame’ campaign as ‘amazing’.
“The campaign has really started a conversation and it is so good how well it has taken off, “ Gary said. “The people of Derry, and further afield, have been brilliant and so supportive. It feels great to receive such support and generosity from the local community.”
Gary added that as a result of the campaign, “people are reaching out who wouldn’t have reached out before.”
Ahead of starting the third marathon, Gary said he was a ‘bit battered and bruised’ but was ‘still in one piece’.
He thanked everyone for the support and encouragement over the last couple of days, saying such support ‘goes a long way’.
Gary set off on his third marathon from the Gasyard Centre at 8am this morning. He will complete the challenge on Friday, ending the last marathon at the Guildhall.
To follow his progress visit: https://www.facebook.com/arcfitnessni