Local businessman prepares to smash the world record by running 133 consecutive half marathons

Local businessman prepares to smash the world record by running 133 consecutive half marathons

The 34-year-old hopes to raise awareness and uplift people struggling with mental health.

Henry Cock

A local businessman is preparing to break the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive half marathons completed in a row as he aims to raise awareness around the stigma of mental health.

34-year-old Henry Cock is busy training to run 133 half marathons over 133 days and is set to cover a distance of 2,800km in the process. The runner will begin his journey in Kosi Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal and will end in Vioolsdrift in Namibia. 

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If he succeeds, he will officially break the current record for men, which currently stands at 75 consecutive half marathons.

Cock, who doesn’t consider himself a professional athlete is doing this to raise awareness and try to break the stigma around mental health. He explains that he has suffered from both depression and anxiety over the past few years as a result of the break-up of his long-term relationship, the strain that the ongoing pandemic has had on his businesses and other everyday struggles.

So, he’s doing this to open up the conversation and help people realise that they don’t need to suffer in silence.

“I only became aware of my mental health issues in 2019,” Cock explains. “The more I started to delve into my personal experiences, the more I began to understand how important mental health is, and the more I learnt that it is still a very stigmatised and taboo subject.”

He explains that after going to therapy and being put on medication that he started feeling himself again and had the courage to speak to those closest to him about his battle. “It takes great courage to speak out and recognise that you suffer from a mental disorder. The more we can open the conversation surrounding mental health, the greater the understanding and empathy will be with those that suffer.” 

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Throughout this process, Cock aims to raise R6 million to support the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). He started the Mentally Aweh crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy and hopes to help those affected by a “new wave of mental health concern” due to isolation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. To date, he has already raised more than R200,000.

“I want people to know that it is OK to tell people you’re struggling with your mental health. It doesn’t mean your life is over, or that you’re different or weird — and it’s OK to take medication for it,” he says. “These things all help, they’re not there to be stigmatised or laughed at or looked down upon as a weakness. The misconception that this problem has no solution is simply not true.”

Image courtesy: Instagram

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