Veteran runs 123 miles for mental health charity

October 15, 2021

Army veteran, Gavin Taylor, ran 123 miles in under 24 hours for a mental health charity on September 18.

Gavin Taylor, an outdoor activity instructor for Adventure Aberdeen, part of award-winning charity Sport Aberdeen, took on the mission of running over four times the distance of a standard marathon.

He raised funds for the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), a cause which is close to his heart. He spoke on the important cause:

“I’ve lost too many good friends and great soldiers to this horrible hidden illness, and it is not only veterans that suffer. Mental health issues also lie closer to home for me like so many others.

“I have seen my little sister’s horrible battle with mental health, but with the support of family and everyone around her, she has shown great courage and strength.”

The route followed much of the Royal Deeside Railway, beginning in Ballater, and finishing in Peterhead.

Gavin Taylor with his supporters, friends and family.

Gavin talked of his personal experiences and why he decided to take on such a huge challenge:

“I am an experienced ultra-runner, but this will be the furthest I’ve ever done in one go. I wanted to really challenge myself as this is for a brilliant cause and one that is close to my heart.

“I’m fundraising for SAMH as I’m all too aware of the hard times people face regarding mental health issues. The charity provides an amazing service in Scotland and they cater for all kinds of mental health issues.

“I myself have gone through some troubled times and have felt vulnerable at times. Leaving the Army and then adapting to civilian life wasn’t easy, and this is something that many servicemen and women face.

“Serving nine years in the military and seeing the effects of mental health and PTSD amongst close friends is a very real worry and something that so many people are touched by. 

“My advice for anyone looking to take on any challenge is don’t be afraid; be bold and brave and believe in yourself. We all tend to say ‘ah I couldn’t do that’ – I’ve said that myself – but I have managed to achieve most of what I said I couldn’t.

“With a huge amount of self-belief, you can achieve anything you set out to do. Dream big and go for it, the rewards are so powerful.” 

Mike Gifford, Adventure Aberdeen Manager, added: “This is an incredible challenge and one we are extremely supportive of. Raising awareness around mental health has never been more important, and it is a hidden illness that affects so many people in Scotland.

“Participating in sport and physical activity has been proven to have a positive impact on mental health, and you don’t have to be an ultra-marathon runner to participate, there are many options available whether that’s through an outdoor adventurous activity like gorge walking, a fitness class or swimming session.

“On behalf of everyone at Sport Aberdeen, well done Gavin!”  

Gavin successfully completed the 123-mile journey in a time of 23 hours and 33 minutes. He also exceeded his fundraising target.

After finishing the challenge, he said: “It was an incredibly emotional moment to see the finish line after such an intense run, and all your family and friends are cheering you on to make it that last little distance. I admit I did break down in tears at that moment.”

Gavin after finishing the challenge. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

For Gavin Taylor’s fundraising page, please click HERE.

For more information about Sport Aberdeen and the services available, please click HERE.

For more information about Adventure Aberdeen, please click HERE.