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New dad runs 36K a week for Scottish mental health charity after experiencing ‘toughest year’

Marius Coste and his wife Jessica with their newborn baby.
Marius Coste and his wife Jessica with their newborn baby.

A man from Aberdeen has pledged to run 36k every week in 2021 to raise funds for a mental health charity.

Marius Coste decided to take on the mammoth fundraising challenge due to struggling with his mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

And although he considers himself “one of the lucky ones” able to continue working over the past 12 months, the 35-year-old has experienced high stress levels.

Marius and his wife Jessica also faced their own personal struggles after living through three miscarriages.

But their sadness recently turned to joy – with the birth of their baby girl Daisy two weeks ago.

Marius, who works as a group cleaning manager, recently turned to running as a form of therapy to help him cope.

“The past Covid year has been a very difficult one for everyone,” Marius said. “In my role as a group cleaning manager, I lead a team of more than 40 staff and we all struggled with our mental health in one way or another.

“I have been one of the lucky ones and worked all throughout the past year but the strain on cleaning services has been more accentuated than ever before.

“We all had moments, myself included, where I did not know why I wanted to cry. I felt I wanted to shed a tear not knowing why and realised it is okay not to be okay.

“The stress levels were quite high all year round and so I started to run for my own mental wellbeing. I realised it was very helpful.

“I have also been doing a two-minute cold shower after every run as well, which also helped a treat as it awakens your senses and gets you in the mood for whatever the day might bring.

“I felt amazing so I decided to lead by example – if it helps me it might be useful to other people also.”

Marius tested the waters in January to determine how far he could run and decided to launch his 36k a week Facebook and JustGiving fundraising pages.

Marius started fundraising for SAMH in January

He has been raising money for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) ever since. The total for both pages is currently at £2,363.

Marius, of Aberdeen, said: “I initially ran all of January this year as a trial to see exactly how much I can achieve.

“I decided to help other people along the way and raise money for SAMH as I heard about the strain on all charities at the minute in relation to getting funds, so why not do it all year round to maximise the support I could raise for them.

“I started the SAMH fundraising on Facebook first and after a few weeks, I decided it might help to open a JustGiving to maximize the chances of reaching a bigger audience of kind supporters. I would do everything needed for this amazing cause.

“Between both donation pages, we have managed to raise the fantastic amount of money which will make a real difference and help many people struggling with mental health across Scotland.

“I could not be more grateful for all the support and love I’ve got behind me and to all those who donated so far.

“The sky is the limit and deep down in my heart, I hope we could do great things this year and help as many people as possible.

“I have pledged to do a minimum of 36k per week but realistically, since I started running, I average more than 42k per week. My total since January 1 is 640km.

“By the time 2021 is finished, I hope to cross the 2000km mark.”

Marius’ wife Jessica, 34, tried to persuade him to start the challenge later in the year, but he was determined to kick things off as soon as possible.

The cleaning manager says that the running – often in quirky costumes – has not only helped with struggles relating to work, but also family matters.

The group cleaning manager turned to running as a form of therapy

He was involved in a horrific car accident several years ago which involved three breaks in one of his legs and so is proud of his ability to run such extensive distances today.

“Because I started on January 1, my wife advised me to wait until spring or summer when the weather improves,” Marius added.

“However I was totally determined that nothing will stop me and my run would be a metaphor for everyone who ever struggles with mental health issues.

“No matter the weather, no matter what life might throw at me, I decided to run for myself and everyone’s mental wellbeing.

“The past year has been a year that brought unprecedented challenges to everyone.

“But I realised that it is okay not to be okay and I had to do something about it and so running helped me a lot. Same with the two-minute cold shower as they go hand in hand.

“Moreover, my wife and I experienced probably our toughest year in a long time and went through three consecutive miscarriages before welcoming into this world, Daisy, our beautiful baby girl.

“We kept this issue as a closely guarded secret close to our hearts as we did not know if it’s okay to talk about it or not. It really plays with your mind.

“You do not know if it’s okay to grieve or not, but it certainly left a scar on our hearts and minds. Again, running helped a lot due to releasing the happy hormones.

“And several years ago, I was passing on a zebra crossing on a green light when I was hit by a car resulting in my right leg being broken in three parts, so I could not walk for many months.

“Several surgeries followed and all this happened in the year when I was preparing for end-of-year Baccalaureate high school exams and university admittance, so it was a very intense year.

Marius with his wife Jessica and their daughter Daisy

“With perseverance, help and support from my family, I managed to successfully go through everything life threw at me that year but looking behind now, it was tough.

“It certainly made me stronger and to now run 36k/week is just a miracle.

He said: “Those that have donated have worked hard for the money they sent us.

“I appreciate it and am very thankful. Words are fleeting, and I want you to know that a simple thank you doesn’t do justice to how deeply I appreciate your support.

“There have been too many promises on mental health and not enough action, it’s time to stand up for Scotland’s mental health.”

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This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.