London Marathon 2017: Inspirational stories beating mental health from the start line



Mike and Linda Kiff


When Mike Kiff sustained a serious shoulder injury while on tour with the Army in Afghanistan, he was medically discharged after more than 16 years of service. He suffered with adjustment disorder and depression, which both he and his family found painful and debilitating.

Seeing her husband suffering both physically and mentally, wife Linda struggled to stay positive for their two young children and she too suffered from depression. 

The Royal British Legion provided the couple with respite and counselling at a recovery centre in Germany. When Linda started running to clear her mind, she found the exercise extremely therapeutic. She lost four stone, felt happier and healthier, and Mike - admiring his wife's new-found optimism - wanted to follow in her footsteps. 

"When I saw how running was helping Linda lose weight and cope better with her own depression, I wanted to see if it would work for me too," Mike said. "Sure enough it did. I managed to wean myself off antidepressants in about two months." 

They are now running the London Marathon to raise money for the charity that helped their family rebuild their lives. "Thanks to the Legion, I was finally able to deal with the situation. I don't know what I'd have done without them," he added.

"We're doing something we love, that makes us feel better, while raising money for the charity that provided support for us when we needed it the most."

Target sponsorship: At least £2,000


Ruby Riley


Ruby Riley, 20, is on a mission. A mission to break a long-standing taboo. The taboo surrounding mental health.

As a teenager, Ruby struggled with the pressures of A-level exams. The stress of choosing the right subjects, revising and endless essay-writing began to take its toll on Ruby's health and she suffered from anxiety and depression. 

She soon developed an eating disorder - a coping mechanism that affected her life both mentally and physically. "The stress brought on a dramatic change in me and saw me desperately trying to take back control," she said.

At first, Ruby developed an unhealthy relationship with exercise. 

"When I was at my worst, I would use exercise as a punishment," she admits. However, through counselling sessions, Ruby has managed to change her life around and says: "I am now able to use exercise as a celebration of what my body is able to do when I treat it properly.

Mental illness is real and you should never be made to feel like what you're going through isn't valid

Through overcoming her own demons, Ruby has been inspired to help others who are suffering in silence. She is raising money for mental health charity, MIND,which highlights mental health issues and encourages people to speak out.

Despite recently suffering from shin splints, Ruby is eager to start her first London Marathon and "can't wait to cross the start line and soak up the atmosphere on the day".

Target sponsorship: £500

Feeling inspired? There are events for all abilities so use this handy guide to find the best one for you.

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