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The Birmingham 10K Run In Aid Of PTSD999

We wanted to bring you a personal experience or two from the Birmingham Running event in which a vast amount of the Be Defiant. team were taking part. 6 ran the 10k (2 of which ran in a weighted vest) and 1 ran a half marathon. This recollection comes from Be Defiant. Founder, Kyle Robinson. Read on to learn about his experience running

It is estimated that one in four (27 per cent) people have contemplated taking their own lives due to stress and poor mental health while working for the emergency services, while nearly two thirds (63 per cent) have contemplated leaving their job or voluntary role because of stress or poor mental health. Our amazing emergency service personnel respond to us in our darkest hours, they protect us and care for us. They are exposed to scenarios that most of us would be unable to comprehend, never mind having to continue to live a normal life after taking off the uniform. It comes as a shock to most to hear that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects people outside of the military, however, when you think about the trauma that our emergency service personnel are exposed to it is no wonder that they suffer from PTSD.

People celebrating after 10km run

On Saturday 19th October we took on our second fundraiser of the year. Members of the Be Defiant Athlete team took part in the Birmingham Running Festival to raise money for @ptsd999official, the UK's only organisation that supports all members of the emergency services, voluntary, ex and current, as well as their friends and family, through their experiences of PTSD. PTSD999 is completely independent, funded by private donations and products that they deliver, so we hope that you will help us to support them and make a donation, however large or small.

Below are the Be Defiant Athletes that took on the Birmingham Running Festival along with what event they took part in.

  • AJ ran the Birmingham Running Festival 10k

  • Amy ran the Birmingham Running Festival 10k

  • Fay ran the Birmingham Running Festival Half Marathon

  • Kayleigh ran the Birmingham Running Festival 10k

  • Kyle ran the Birmingham Running Festival 10k in a 10kg weight vest

  • Michaela ran the Birmingham Running Festival 10k

  • MJ ran the Birmingham Running Festival 10k in a 10kg weight vest

We were running to raise money for PTSD999.

Woman happily running 10kWhen we arrived at the event it quickly became apparent it was going to be a very good day. As the athletes turned up it reminded me of just how special each one of these incredible humans is and how lucky I is to be able to call them not only my athletes but my friends.
There were some nerves in the air as we were waiting to set off on our run. We heard the announcer tell us to go and off we went. I always find that I have to purposefully tell myself to slow down and take my time at the start of a run, I get a little eager and want to set off at a much quicker pace than I can sustain!
By this point, Fay was already at least 15mins into her Half Marathon run. You wouldn’t have known it to look at her though. At all times she maintained a cool and calm look about her. I was later told that Fay was actually singing along to some terrible 90’s pop music whilst filling her face with jelly babies to keep her energy levels up. This is typical of Fay, there is no task too difficult that she cannot overcome with a little hard work and some sweets. It was extremely fitting that Fay was running this event with us as she had recently been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of an incident that happened whilst she was at work as an active duty Police Officer.

The run itself included a lot of hills. In a way, I thought it was very relatable to life. The uphill battles were draining, hard work and constantly tempted me into calling it a day. When I found myself at the top of a hill I would take the time to recover, get my breath back. I could enjoy some of the beautiful scenery that surrounded us and revel in the achievement of the hill that I had just managed to climb. However, this peace, tranquillity and triumph didn’t last long as the downhills snuck up on me fast. The downhills would make me fight to stay in control, the extra weight of the vest and being wet underfoot meant I needed to concentrate to avoid rolling an ankle or gaining too much speed.

 

Group of runners crossing finish line
It hurt, a lot. The vest had become heavy early on into the run. The shoulder
straps of the weight vest were rubbing on my neck and starting to make it raw. My legs had become comparable to lead and my breathing was laboured. However, I was loving every second.

Every kilometre was hard work, I had to break the goal of finishing the 10km run down into 10 more achievable goals of 1km. Each one taking me to a darker place than the previous one. Towards the end of the first 5km, a section of the run doubled back on itself and I saw a couple of the Be Defiant Athletes heading towards me on the other side of the cones. This was a reprieve, a huge boost, and it was needed. First, I saw Amy who looked laser-focused and was pushing hard. I know Amy had been putting a lot of work into her running leading up to this event and it certainly looked to be paying off. We high fived and smiled as we passed each other, it felt good to see one of my friends doing so well! It must have only been 30 seconds later and I could see Michaela was on her way back up the second to the last climb too. Michaela as always was wearing a big smile, I had no idea how, this was hurting; but seeing Michaela smiling made me smile and for a second or two, my legs didn’t hurt so bad! We leant over the cones, offered each other words of encouragement, high fived and got back to it. These guys are smashing it and seeing them doing so well carried me through to the end of the first lap.

Man running a weighted vestThe end of the first lap marked the 5km point as I passed the start/finish line I glanced over at the clock, 32:04.. I had just reached halfway. That’s when the self-doubt started to creep in, from here on in I was in uncharted territory as I had never run more than 5km in the weight vest. The last 5km of the race actually seemed to fly by. I was totally immersed in my own thoughts of how difficult it must be to live with PTSD every single day, especially when having PTSD is a result of going to work and doing your job. Not just any job, but as a member of the Emergency Services, extraordinary human beings that are always willing and ready to respond to any and all of us in our darkest hour. All of a sudden, I had arrived at the 9km marker. It almost didn’t feel real, do I really only have 1km left? On the final descent, I could see all of the Be Defiant Athletes had finished and were supporting all the other runners hammering through their final kilometre. I could hear AJ doing what comes naturally to him (who I would later find outran his first-ever 10km in sub 47mins!) shouting at every passer-by giving them the support they needed to hang in there to get to the finish. The last 400m was all uphill but knowing the rest of the Be Defiant Athletes were waiting at the final corner gave me enough energy to keep on pounding the pavement to the final corner.

 

 

Tall man running in a weighted vestRounding that corner all that stood between me and taking that 10kg vest off was an incline of 100m. I started to swing my arms faster, lengthen my strides and breathe deeper. I had decided I was going to empty the tank to get over that line before the 70min mark, it was made or break. MJ was sprinting through the crowd to my left screaming words of encouragement at me, dodging through people and pushing my pace all the way until I crossed the line. As I ripped my vest off and threw it at the floor I just about managed to say thank you to him between my gasps for air. He turned to me and said, “Never let a friend carry a problem alone.” That was what I took away from Birmingham, we all have problems, and they are our own problems to carry. That doesn’t mean we need someone to carry them for us and it doesn’t mean we need to carry them alone.

Kayleigh managed to finish the 10km in 1 hour and 12 minutes. She decided to take on this challenge without ever running any more than 5km. This was an amazing achievement and I am so proud of her along with every other Be Defiant Athlete that took part in the Birmingham Running Festival.

Group of Runners Smiling

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