A veteran battling depression has completed the North Pole marathon to give back to Help for Heroes, the charity which gave him a renewed sense of purpose after army life.
Earlier this month Rob Shenton travelled to the North Pole to take part in what is considered to be one of the coldest footraces in the world. He successfully completed the epic event earlier this week, bringing to a close a trip of challenges to raise funds for Help for Heroes.
Rob explained: “I did it! Emotions don’t come into it, I went through them all. After 8 and a half hours of temperatures between – 32 and -35 degrees I finally completed the North Pole marathon!
“It was 10 laps of an amazing but brutal course. One moment you would be running on a thick crust of snow and the next you would have one foot knee deep through the crust and into the snow.
“Thank you so much for giving me the chance to do this. It means so much, I am on such a high. It really is giving my depression a kicking!”
A foot injury meant Rob was close to giving up on lap 7, but in his words, “something clicked and I was able to run again!”
The North Pole Marathon is the only certified marathon that is run entirely ‘on’ water, the frozen water of the Arctic Ocean and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the Northernmost Marathon on Earth. Temperatures for the Marathon can drop down to −35° F and it is reputed to be one of the coldest marathons in the world. In 2011 Rob also completed what is reputed to be the toughest footrace on earth the Marathon des Sables – 155 miles across the Sahara in 6 days. He followed this one in 2013 with the highest marathon in the world on the side of Mount Everest.
Rob was a former army major who served for over 21 years and saw operational duty in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. He has suffered from depression for over 18 years and despite trying to keep it under control, it became too much for him and eventually he was medically discharged from the Army in 2016 with depression and PTSD.
He said: “My mental health has taken me to the lowest levels of despair. It cost me my relationships, friends, property and I even tried to take my life.”
With the support of Help for Heroes, Rob now feels his life has started to get back on track.
“I got a real sense of peace and calm when I visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centres. It was fundamental to my recovery when I was experiencing the upheaval of leaving a job I loved so much and thought I would be doing for my entire working life. I received support from Hidden Wounds and the Band of Brothers fellowship network and they were invaluable.”
Speaking before the marathon, Rob said: “The North Pole marathon will complete a trio of challenges I started while I was in the Army. In a way, it will close that part of my life and enable me to move on to the next stage as a civilian and maybe some bigger adventures.
“I couldn’t leave the trio of toughest, highest, and coldest unfinished, so this will help my recovery and marks a significant step in my moving forward. I am really looking forward to the challenge, I love endurance events and pushing myself to the limit to get to the end. It makes me feel glad to be alive.
It also gives me chance to say a big thank you to Help for Heroes and raise some funds for them, which will enable them to continue their vital work”
Rob has so far raised more than £2,800 for Help for Heroes.
If you would like to donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/running-rob-challenge-3