By Eddie McAteer, Sports Editor
Clifton Crusaders have been raising money for mental health charity Young Minds by running, cycling and walking the distance from Bristol to Bucharest. The intramural rugby team have previously supported the charity by promoting the ‘It’s okay to feel S.H.I.T.’ campaign in a training session last year.
The last article I wrote before the first lockdown covered Clifton Crusaders’ training session to raise awareness for mental health whereby they trained wearing shirts stating that it’s okay not to be okay. Coincidentally, I wrote this article just a few weeks before the team went on tour to Bucharest, unaware that all our lives were about to change so drastically.
With the tour heavily disrupted by the developing pandemic, the team did not feel that their relationship with the city was ready to end. After another drive for S.H.I.T. stash yielded few results, Joe Stirrup – the club’s director of rugby – proposed that they travel the equivalent of Bristol to Bucharest in one month. He said, ‘Since we can’t play, I thought it would be a good thing to get the guys out and to have something to focus on during lockdown’.
Many of us have undoubtedly found the numerous lockdowns and tier changes difficult. Now more than ever the work of mental health charities is important and Clifton Crusaders, like many sports teams, have played their part.
In less than two weeks the team had already ‘reached’ southern Germany, more than 1250km into their journey. Perhaps more impressively, they have now received over £1500 in donations for their efforts and reached their destination with five days still to spare.
Some monumental efforts have gone into the fundraiser, including a near 70km cycle, numerous 20km runs and even a marathon. Then, to top it off four players said that they planned to cycle to and from Bath twice in one day, a total of 110km.
Through one of the coldest, wettest and bleakest winter periods in recent years, the team upheld their commitment to supporting mental health.
Like on tour, there were peaks and troughs throughout the challenge, yet, through one of the coldest, wettest and bleakest winter periods in recent years, the team upheld their commitment to supporting mental health. Even as the exam period inconveniently placed itself mid-way through the challenge, nobody waivered - least of all Jake Chase, who decided it was the perfect time to run a marathon. He said of his marathon run, ‘It was a personal challenge to keep me motivated during lockdown and to inspire others to get out there’.
They were helped in part by a shout out on Classic FM in early February, just as the danger of running out of steam started to present itself. Who wouldn’t be motivated by hearing the Star Wars theme tune blasted out by a radio station associated more with Mozart and Beethoven than Yoda and Chewbacca?
In total more than 30 members of the club participated in some way, shape or form and Stirrup is ‘really proud of what we have managed to achieve’. He acknowledges that there is a ‘really strong support network in the team’ and hopes that the money raised will go some way to helping those who are struggling.
The link to donate to the team can be found here and if you are finding things difficult support is available through organisations such as Young Minds and Samaritans.
Featured Image: University of Bristol: Clifton Crusaders