Hi my name is Gareth and I am the project leader for Team2gether, a running group that helps those with Mental Health issues access running groups and engage in exercise.
I have been a keen runner since I was 11 and entered my first half marathon at 14. I have completed several Half, Full and Ultra Marathons and enjoy the challenge of trying to run further rather than collecting new PBs. The mental aspect of these events is also what attracts me. Running has always been very relaxing to me and I always found that it helped clear my mind after a working day. More recently, after years of coaching on an ad hoc basis I have become a full-time group leader and running coach. I am also an England Athletics’ Mental Health Ambassador and Run Director for Colchester Castle parkrun.
I have done a lot of events and played sports and they were personal achievements but the thing that has given me most satisfaction is forming Team2gether. The project has had an instant impact and I feel that it is making a difference.
Sport is a metaphor for life and the lessons I’ve learnt as a child playing sports helped me as an adult. It has helped keep me healthy physically and also contributed a great deal to my mental health. I have always instinctively exercised when I am feeling down and I now realise that there are scientific reasons why this helps and that unknowingly I was doing the right thing for my well-being. I have realised the majority of goals I want out of my running and now derive more pleasure helping others achieve theirs.
We still have a long way to go as far as getting disabled people participating in sport but I believe we are at a tipping point and with a concerted effort we can both inspire people to participate and remove the barriers that often discourage participation.
In my dealings with Team 2gether it is obvious that there is a lot of good will and potential support out there to make this happen, I would like to be someone who helps harness this and use it to really improve people’s lives and make them aware of the opportunities that exist.