The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry joined a training day with the runners who took part in the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon for Heads Together, the official Charity of the Year at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
Their Royal Highnesses joined training sessions on the new London Marathon Community Track with more than 150 Team Heads Together runners along with world-record holder and three time London Marathon winner, Paula Radcliffe and British 400m record holder and London Marathon regular, Iwan Thomas. All of the Team Heads Together runners donned Heads Together head bands whilst training. Heads Together is encouraging everyone running in this year’s race, whichever great cause they are supporting, to make it a ‘mental health marathon.’
Paula Radcliffe and Iwan Thomas also gave advice and encouragement to the assembled Heads Together runners on training and preparation.
As well as a range of advice on nutrition, running and stretching, Team Heads Together runners also received advice and encouragement on how they can lead from the front in achieving the campaign mission of starting millions of conversations on mental health during the build up to the Virgin Money London Marathon. In 2017, the Virgin Money London Marathon celebrated the unique story of every runner, and the Heads Together runners also had the opportunity to visit the video booth and record their personal #ReasonToRun for Heads Together.
During a cool down at the Copper Box Arena the Duke gave a few words of encouragement to Team Heads Together runners.
The Duke of Cambridge said:
“We want to normalise mental health, we want to get people talking about it, to make it more normal and to reduce the stigma. What you are doing and having so many of you here today, you’ve already seen the benefit of joining in, by being part of this marathon, we want to make it a mental health marathon.
“You are crucial to making this happen and we can’t do it without you. We really hope your training goes very well. Good luck with the training and we look forward to seeing you on the big day.”
Team Heads Together runners were able to fund-raise for the eight Heads Together Charity Partners or the campaign itself. One session focused on boosting runners fundraising efforts in raising funds for the services and support delivered by these Charity Partners, giving vital help with mental health, day in, day out.
Their Royal Highnesses took part in a training relay race with members of Team Heads Together and Paula Radcliffe. This included Pippa, Henrietta and Will Creasey who are running to raise money for CALM, after Henrietta and Will’s father and Pippa’s husband Dr Terry Creasy committed suicide following an acute struggle with depression.
“Suicide was not a word we thought would be associated with us. Nevertheless, four years after tragically losing the head of our very special family, we find ourselves hoping to use the experience to raise awareness of what is the biggest cause of death of men under the age of 45 in the UK. As incomprehensible as this statistic sounds – husbands, fathers, brothers and sons are being lost to a silent killer that as a society we find difficult to talk about. It is time to start the conversation. Which is why we’re pleased to have the opportunity to run the Virgin London Marathon in support for CALM and Heads Together.”
“The strenuous training programme and the twenty-six mile sightseeing extravaganza will undoubtedly be an immense physical and emotional challenge. We hope the test will be made significantly easier knowing we are running for two fantastic charities that are raising much needed awareness of men’s mental health.”
The Heads Together training day was the first event to be held at the new London Marathon Community Track which was funded by a grant of £3.45 million from the London Marathon Charitable Trust. This is the largest single project ever funded by The Trust. The London Marathon Community Track will be used as the warm-up track for the World Athletics Championships later this year and then will be officially handed over to Newham and Essex Beagles and local schools and community groups.
Picture and Video Gallery
Here are some of our Heads Together runners and their amazing stories on why they ran the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon for mental health. Find out more about our runners here and follow their journey via #TeamHeadsTogether