A British Army veteran is visiting the island next week for the final leg in his challenge to run around the entire UK coastline, having so far raised almost £400,000.
Heads Up, the mental health charity which Paul Minter partly founded, plans to use the funds to build a dedicated therapeutic retreat in the British countryside which would be free for any veteran to visit.
He started in March.
Upon finishing, the 36-year-old will have run a total of 5,000 miles (equivalent to 191 marathons in 218 days), at 28 miles a day.
In doing so, he has gone through 13 pairs of trainers, and 210 pairs of socks. After receiving publicity on national TV and announcing the destinations he will be arriving in around the country, Paul said that over 200 people have put him up in their homes for the night, from well-wishes to other veterans. To prepare, he trained with ultra-runner and coach Carla Molinaro.
Among the difficult stretches included running through the heatwaves in the southwest coast of England, and blizzards in Scotland.
Thankfully, he has avoided serious injuries aside from spraining his ankle several times.
‘To get through the adversity, I use the affirmation motto “pain is temporary but pride is forever”, when I’m pain, or tired, or aching and fatigued, I will just keep going and eventually I won’t feel that pain but I’ll be proud I made it through these days’.
Having struggled himself upon leaving the military, Paul explained that he learned a number of techniques to improve his mental health which would be implemented at the retreat, as well as being useful for anyone.
He told the Courier that these included: journaling, meditation, breathing exercises, cold water therapy, stoicism philosophy, understanding nutrition, and learning about the hormones in the body which determine mood.
A particular emphasis would be placed on the retreat being non-militarised, because: ‘While there is some psychological treatment available [in the military], much is offered within military settings which can trigger further harm to those already in acute mental distress; I can relate to this as I’ve been there myself.’
Paul served as a frontline soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the same regiment as Princes William and Harry, and suffered traumatic experiences like being blown up in a bombing which left other soldiers dead.
He explained that he has lost twice as many comrades to suicide then combat, despite having served four tours in warzones.
On Thursday, September 29 at 7pm, Paul will be giving a talk at the Promenade Methodist Church in Douglas and answering questions.
He is also inviting people to come along and join him for the final leg of his run, from Summerland to the Sea Terminal at 2pm on September 30.
People can donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-minter1