PUBLISHED IN THE EVENING CHRONICLE
By Jon Offredo
A FORMER soldier is going the distance to raise awareness about his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Simon Buckden, 39, wants to raise £100,000 for the charity Help for Heroes by completing 100 marathons in 100 weeks. The ex-Army and UN serviceman, formerly of Gateshead, has so far run 662 miles and crossed 22 finish lines on his trek, which will take him all over the UK and parts of Europe.
When he’s completed the challenge in 2013, Simon says he will have run around 2,600 miles.
He ran 26.2 miles in Newcastle last weekend, battling torrential rain and strong winds to cross the finish line in just under 3 hours and 49 minutes.
He said: “I’m very happy to have come back to the Toon to run one of my marathons, being supported by so many new as well as old friends.”
It would be a hard task for anyone, but especially for someone who has never completed a marathon, doesn’t train much during the week and admits he has a bad diet.
“I eat almost anything that moves. I weigh over 15 stone and am six foot two. I just steamroll through the marathons.”
But Simon said the hardest part isn’t actually the run – it’s his daily struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Simon said he struggled with eating, found it difficult getting out of bed and suffered flashbacks from his Army days.
He said: “The challenge for me is getting through the week – making sure my head is square on. For me getting to the start line is the finish anyway. If I make it to the start line I will cross the finish line.”
For 12 years, Simon served in countless theatres of war and also supported the UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia during the 1990s. He was discharged in 2001 for medical reasons related to his service.
“In basic training you train to be this hard robot with no emotion,” he said. “It’s hard because you know something is going wrong, but you don’t say anything. You don’t speak out. When you do, you get ostracised, especially if it’s mental health.”
Throughout his travels, Simon said he’s made a lot of new friends who have offered support.
He has set up a group on Facebook, called 100 Marathons in 100 Weeks – Raising Funds For Help For Heroes, which has been ‘liked’ by 237 people, and he has almost 800 followers on Twitter.
He added: “People see me on Twitter and expect a huge athlete. I’m not an athlete. I’m just a regular guy trying to get across a point across and pushing myself beyond belief.”
So far Simon has raised £1,617.40. To donate to his fundraising, visit www.bmycharity.com/100marathons