Footballers’ monumental Movember marathon

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By George Lanigan, Third Year English

Two members of the University of Bristol Men’s Football Club have undertaken a journey of epic proportion this month as they ran an ultramarathon in aid of Movember. Toby Spencer-Pickup and Finlay Wallace-Abbott completed a 45-mile ultramarathon to raise awareness for the charity that aims to raise money and awareness for men’s health.

On 21 November, the duo set off from the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol, with the run finishing at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. The route will take them via the Clifton Downs, over the Severn River crossing and through Newport. According to Spencer-Pickup, ‘The route planning has been fairly tricky and takes us across fields, the path of a long dual carriageway and up plenty of hills.’

Fortunately, the duo have been training both on the treadmill in the gym and on the roads for the last few months. The intense exercise has been taking its toll and they ‘Quickly realised when we started training that our feet, especially blisters, would be an issue’, Spencer-Pickup said.

He added, ‘As two guys really into fitness and both members of the University of Bristol Men’s Football Club, we have selected a challenge that will without doubt push us to our absolute limits both mentally and physically.’ The timing of the run is weather dependent (it wouldn’t be Britain if not), but they are hoping to complete the ultramarathon within 11 to 13 hours.

The firebreak lockdown in Wales has added to the pressure but as it stands the run should go ahead, as these restrictions are set to end on 9 November. If these restrictions are not lifted, the worst-case scenario is not a cancellation but instead switching the route from Cardiff to Bristol, although this remains unlikely.

Turning our attention to the cause itself, Movember began in 2003, after two Australian men, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, decided to grow moustaches to raise money and awareness for men’s health.

So far, they have raised over £1,000 for Movember, which has set the goal of reducing the rate of male suicide by 25% within the next decade.

Today, the movement is a global initiative promoting male wellbeing, having funded over 1,250 men’s health projects. In 2019 alone, the movement raised almost £13 million. What started as two guys in a bar has become an international organisation that saw close to 400,000 people participating last year.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 promises to be another strong year for the charity, as they continue to spread their slogan, ‘Your dough will save a bro.’ Sports clubs throughout the University will be making money-raising efforts for the cause, including Ben Costin. Unlike Spencer-Pickup and Wallace-Abbott, Costin has already ran a marathon for men’s health after the Yorkshire marathon was postponed for a year and has raised nearly £1,250 at the time of writing.

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Contending with the additional 19 miles of an ultramarathon means that the intrepid footballers will have to cope with extra physical challenges, but they know the benefits it will have. So far, they have raised over £1,000 for Movember, which has set the goal of reducing the rate of male suicide by 25% within the next decade.

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Spencer-Pickup and Wallace-Abbott encourage students to speak to their friends about their issues and believe there should be no stigma around discussing how you feel, particularly in the current climate with restrictions and lockdowns. ‘We are certain that at some point during the task, probably exhausted and soaked somewhere in Wales, we will both want to quit, but the thought of all our ‘Mo Bros’ out there will keep us going.’

Featured Image: UBAFC

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