Re-flow's Co-Founder & Managing Director, Michael Saunders, has completed his 400-mile run to raise money for the prevention charity, PAPYRUS.
Over the past four weeks, Mike has run a 10-mile commute from his home in Cheriton Fitzpaine to the Re-flow offices in Exeter, Devon. Undertaking this distance twice a day, he’s completed just under a full marathon every weekday, for 4 weeks in a row. Overall, this has amounted to 400 miles and 40,000 feet of elevation – the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest one and a half times.
At Re-flow, we work closely with companies in the highways, construction, civil engineering, and rail industries. All of which are disproportionately affected by suicide. In the construction industry, 29 out of 100,000 workers lost their lives to suicide in 2019, over double the national average. In the highways industry, 40% of workers report struggling with mental health issues – a major contributor to suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Over his years working in the industry, Michael began to learn of the issues and statistics from his peers, colleagues and clients, and became determined to do his part.
Aiming to spread awareness of these issues, Mike connected with Heather Sandover, Regional Manager of PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide, a national charity dedicated to providing training and support surrounding suicide, which has now become the leading cause of death for under 35s in the UK.
The challenge garnered a great amount of support from the Re-flow team, who cheered him on every step of the way. Many team members living in the area were already familiar with the difficulty and intensity of the route, making Mike's achievement even more impressive. Each daily run started at Mike's home in Cheriton Fitzpaine, followed by a colossal, slow, and agonising 770-foot climb up Raddon Hill, taking him into Exeter. Prior to the challenge, Mike consulted with sports and medical professionals in order to fully grasp the physical demands this challenge would place on him.
This challenge is comparable to what professional marathon runners would be doing in training. The route is hard with some nasty climbs in both directions. And remember, professional runners, aren't working a full day on top!
Throughout the run, messages of support and donations poured in from Re-flow's clients, excited to do their part. Many donated, including QMS, MV Kelly Ltd, Fenton TM, Bridge Civil Engineering Ltd, HTM, LCRIG, R&W, as well as other clients, businesses, friends, family, and neighbours. For Mike, the challenge hasn’t just been physically taxing. The mental and emotional strain of such a colossal undertaking has been a learning experience, highlighting the importance of being open, reaching out and starting a conversation.
I'm reasonably stoic as a person, brought up to not really talk about feelings, just sort of crack on with things. But one of the things about PAPYRUS is talking and conversation, being open to sharing what you feel. I'm used to doing long runs, so it would’ve been easy to keep all the difficulty of this challenge to myself. But doing daily diaries was cathartic; they helped me realise just how much we can bury and ignore it when we're hurting, physically and emotionally.
The level of support he'd garnered over the month-long challenge was put on display at the end of his final run. Mike was met with a fanfare of support from friends, family and colleagues organised by Heather Sandover, setting up balloons, a finish line, and a banner, generously donated by AC Print. Mike's efforts have now raised over £3,500, just short of his £4,000 goal. We're grateful for any new donations that'll help us inch closer to that number.
We're all so proud of what Mike has achieved. Thank you to everyone who's supported Mike and followed his journey. He's raised over £3000 already, which will help with the vital and lifesaving work we do at PAPYRUS.