Agony and ecstasy of fund-raiser who ran 53 miles from Wigan to Leeds

A fund-raiser braved the “worst pain” of his life as he ran more than 50 miles to highlight mental illness.

Monday, 24th August 2020, 7:00 am

Aaron Woodward said he was in “absolute agony” but was still delighted to have completed his challenge of running from Wigan to Leeds.

He set off at 2am and completed the 53 miles in 11-and-a-half hours, beating his 12-hour target.

And it was not easy, as he suffered injuries, chaffing, lost toe nails, developed stress fractures and later discovered he had a kidney infection.

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Aaron Woodward

“It was probably the worst pain of my life,” he said.

“It’s something my legs weren’t used to. Even walking would have been tough, never mind running it.”

Aaron, who lives in Newtown, is taking on a series of challenges to raise money for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) -a charity working to prevent suicide among men in the UK - and to encourage people to speak out about mental ill health and seek help.

The joiner tried to take his own life earlier this year, spent six weeks in hospital and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

And his sister Tracy was just 36 when she died by suicide in 2015.

Aaron, 28, said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic that I did it. It’s raising awareness of male mental health and raising money. I think I am over £1,700 now, which is absolutely insane, and the support has been getting bigger and bigger.

“More people are messaging me from different parts of the UK to congratulate me and say what I am doing is fantastic. It’s so heartwarming that my message isn’t just getting to people in Wigan, but people around the UK.”

Aaron started fund-raising earlier in the summer by running two marathons in a weekend - despite never having run further than a half marathon before.

He is already considering his next challenge, which could be running a marathon on the Isle of Arran.

Aaron said: “I thought it would be really ironic to go to the Isle of Arran in Scotland and do a marathon in a funky outfit.

“I want to keep the mileage lower to let my body recovery, but it’s still a long way.”

He hopes to go on the trip in either late September or early October, before the winter sets in.

Aaron is determined to keep going and also plans to run 84 miles along Hadrian’s Wall next year.

He is considering sponsored swims and bike rides, and possibly even an Ironman triathlon one day.

He said: “I have lots of ideas and hope to keep doing it for years and years.”

Donations to CALM can be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aaronwoodward.