A former soldier who was medically discharged from the Army with mental health issues is aiming to complete his second challenge for Help for Heroes.
In June, Rob Shenton, 45, of Eastleigh, Hampshire, will be taking part in Race to the King, a 52.4mile marathon event in Arundel, an event for which Help for Heroes is a charity partner.
Earlier this year, Rob completed the North Pole marathon, one of the coldest footraces in the world In 2011 he 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 is using the ultra marathon event to keep motivated and to provide a new focus after applying for the Invictus Games.
“One of the things Help for Heroes do is ensure those not selected for the Games continue their recovery through sport. The opportunity to run Race to the King came up and Help for Heroes recommended it to me.
“Running gives me space to think and reason. I suffer from mental illness, so reasoning with myself can be very difficult. Sometimes the bad thoughts that cloud my depression can be overpowering. Running frees me from those thoughts. It helps me use mindfulness and I come more in tune with what my body needs. I enjoy running now, but years ago it was more about me running away from my demons. Now running gives me peace.”
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.
“Help for Heroes has such a vital role to play in the recovery and support for our wounded, injured and sick veterans. Without them, many of us would never find our hope and enjoyment in life again. If you have lost a job that you love, you lose your confidence. I loved the Army, I had wanted to do it since I was eight years old. Help for Heroes can help that confidence come back. Once that happens, the veteran becomes part of that force for good and everyone benefits.”Sign up to the Race to the King