Meet our marathon runners [Part 1]

This October, an incredible group of Bristol alumni and students are taking on the 2021 London Marathon in support of the University’s Healthy Minds programme.

This programme helps students who are experiencing mental health difficulties by providing them with a bespoke physical activity plan and access to sports facilities. Students are paired up with a mentor – a member of the University fitness team with advanced mental health training – who coaches them throughout their time on the programme.

We spoke to three of the University of Bristol runners taking part this year to find out what inspired them to raise money for Healthy Minds and how their training is going so far.

Olivia Copping (BA 2015)

What made you want to sign up to run the London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds?

I spent three of the happiest years studying at Bristol. Running the London marathon on behalf of the University, and for such a great cause, seemed like the perfect opportunity to celebrate the positive impact this experience continues to have on my life.

Life as a student can be as daunting as it can be thrilling. Healthy Minds provides support to students experiencing mental health difficulties by harnessing physical activity as a tool to improve wellbeing, ensuring they get the most out of these formative years.

What is your prior running experience? 

​I’d never considered myself a ‘runner’ until Emma, who works as a Philanthropy Officer in the University’s alumni team, quite rightly pointed out anyone who makes the effort to put on their trainers and head outdoors is a ‘runner’!

Like many others, I find running to be a great excuse to escape outside, and that’s been particularly important during the last 18 months we’ve experienced. As a result, I’ve pushed myself more than ever before, and received the serendipitous offer to run the London Marathon!

Favourite place to run?  

My parents live on the edge of a beautiful forest. The hills, fields, lakes and trails make it the perfect place for all-round run (and getting lost!)

What is your top running track?  

I can’t not enjoy running when listening to “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior.

Adam Brammar (BA 2019)

What made you want to sign up to run the London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds?

I am a History graduate from the University of Bristol, studying there from 2016-2019. Since graduating I have completed the GDL at the University of Law, and I am now working as a paralegal at a commercial law firm in London. Outside of work, I try to be as active as possible and I maintain general fitness through running.

During my final year of University I experienced several mental health issues due to personal circumstances, and so I decided to focus my attention on running. Within a few months I had completed my first half marathon, and I have continued long-distance running ever since. For this reason I feel personally motivated to run the London Marathon for Healthy Minds, as someone who is passionate about running and helping others overcome mental health issues.

Claire Evans, (BA 1991) 

What made you want to sign up to run the London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds? 

Poor mental health is such a scourge on bright young minds. It is so debilitating and can be catastrophic. It is far too often unspoken and untackled but positive intervention really makes an impact. As a workplace ambassador for the children’s mental health charity Place2Be, I am already a passionate advocate for young people’s mental health. Supporting Healthy Minds in the higher education setting is a natural extension of this. It is a fantastic, successful programme. I have experienced first-hand the therapeutic impact of exercise. I feel quite evangelical about it so supporting Healthy Minds is a calling I think!

What is your prior running experience? 

Very little indeed! The Marathon is a huge challenge for me! A couple of years ago I did the Couch to 5K programme and graduated from there to ParkRun and got a few of those under my belt before the first lockdown. Each one of those 5K circuits was tough and I remember thinking I couldn’t possibly run a single metre more.

Favourite place to run?  

I’m not sure I have a favourite but I think road running is my least favourite (bit of shame given that is what I have committed to for the London Marathon!) I like woodland runs if there is a good path. Since restrictions have eased, I have been visiting a few different places and I have really enjoyed the runs on the sea front at Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

What is your top running track?  

I am still discovering what works for me and it’s all a bit random. For a long time I didn’t listen to anything and enjoyed listening to all the sounds around me and my inner voice urging me on. Lately I have been trying podcasts and have discovered The British History Podcasts. Today I was learning about King Canute. Turns out he did more than try and stop the tide!

To support our runners head to their team JustGiving page.

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