Made in Chelsea star Josh Patterson talks depression, redefining mental illness, and his 76-marathon challenge
Currently undertaking a new, record-breaking challenge titled Run 4 1 Million, Josh is in the midst of a brain-bending 76 marathons in all of the UK’s 76 cities in 76 consecutive days. Having started in Scotland on February 27th, the two-time world record-holder has already got 12 marathons under his belt and has been running for over 250 hours.
“I’m feeling good,” replies Josh when I ask how he’s feeling. “We’ve got this cork map and, at the end of each day, I put a pin in the city we’ve just completed, so it’s mental looking at how far we’ve travelled. You can’t focus on all 76, I’m just taking it one marathon at a time and breaking those runs down into chunks and it’s flying by. It’s been really special.”
Having struggled with his own mental health, Josh is doing the challenge in aid of the UK’s leading mental health and suicide-prevention charity, the Samaritans. Determined to raise £1m, which could fund 62,000 potentially life-saving calls, Josh - who will be in Lancaster on March 17 and Preston the day after - wants to change how mental illness is perceived.
“The main thing about this challenge is changing the narrative around mental illness - in terms of what somebody living with it can achieve, how they’re perceived by others, and by ensuring we offer as much support as possible,” he says. “The health system is so stretched right now, so there are people who are struggling.
“Samaritans is a UK-wide charity and they have an office in all 76 cities in the UK, so that’s where the idea came from,” Josh adds. “By raising the full million, every part of the UK will benefit and I felt really strongly about that because I want to help as many people as I can. And I’m really proud of what we’ve done so far.”
Having previously taken part in Bear Grylls Survival Race and travelled the 900 miles from John O’Groats to Lands’ End in a wheelchair, Josh is no stranger to extreme challenges and wants to redefine perceptions around mental illness, one marathon at a time.
“I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, but I’m running 76 marathons and - certainly for men - that changes the perception,” says Josh. “It’s all about changing that male mindset and what’s seen as weakness. People just need to talk without fear of judgement because everyone deserves a happy life.
“One guy told me how, when his father went away to serve in Afghanistan, he let his sisters cry, but not him because he was a man,” he adds. “He said these challenges really connected with him because he saw a grown man crying and showing vulnerability, which he suddenly realised wasn’t a sign of weakness like his dad taught him.
“The world is tough, but it’s also a really magical place,” Josh says. “It can feel like the light isn’t coming, but it takes perseverance and letting people know help is there.”