Hardest Geezer Russ Cook joins Yorkshire teen for final leg of running challenge for mental health

A Yorkshire teenager who ran a mile a day in April to raise money for a mental health charity said it was "an honour" to be joined by Hardest Geezer Russ Cook for the final leg of his challenge.

Marcus Skeet, 16, ran one mile every day in April for Mind UK and completed the last part of his challenge in London on Tuesday (Apr 30) alongside the ultra-runner, who made headlines after running the length of Africa for charity.

He praised Mr Cook's tenacity during his African run, describing him as an "inspiration" after he commented on Marcus's post on X, formerly Twitter, offering to run the final mile with the 16-year-old.

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Marcus, from Malton, said: "It's an honour. He's a massive inspiration of mine and even to meet him genuinely means the world. It's just the mental strength of what he did. When he was running across Africa, he got robbed and had setbacks, but he had the motivation to keep going."

Marcus Skeet (right) was joined by the 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook for the final leg of his challenge. (Pic: X/Russ Cook)Marcus Skeet (right) was joined by the 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook for the final leg of his challenge. (Pic: X/Russ Cook)
Marcus Skeet (right) was joined by the 'Hardest Geezer' Russ Cook for the final leg of his challenge. (Pic: X/Russ Cook)

The teenager will be running in memory of his friend who "lost their battle with mental health" and hopes his challenge will encourage more people to be comfortable speaking about their mental health challenges.

"I've suffered with bad mental health in the past and I've always wanted to speak out about mental health. The best thing to do is to speak out about it."

Marcus, who often has intrusive thoughts because of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), said he fell into depression after his father was diagnosed with dementia in 2019 at the age of 58, but said his father's positivity helps him cope.

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"I've always been a massive overthinker and I'd Google search dementia and I'd look at the worst thing. Every type of dementia is different," he said. "My dad is positive ... His memory might not be there, but he's there and he's positive so that's the main thing."

He added: "I want to keep running and help people. If 10 people could talk about mental health that could change one person's life. That's the main thing for me.”

Marcus thanked the public for their donations to his fundraiser, which, so far, has raised more than £2,400 surpassing his original target of £250.

"It makes me realise there are good people in this world still. The world can be a very dark place sometimes," he said. "But to see people come together, help an incredible charity, talk about and raise awareness of mental health is genuinely incredible."

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The teenager admitted the first few days into his challenge were difficult, but noticed improvements in his running after completing his first 5K and 10K runs and said "seeing the lovely comments has really helped me".

He said training outdoors improved his mental health and he wants to encourage people to take up sports outside.

"People don't appreciate nature and exercise as much as it needs to be appreciated," he said. "Going out and looking at nature, looking at the animals, it's the best thing you can do for your mental health."

Marcus has plans to run from Land's End to John O'Groats in Scotland in the future but, in the meantime, he has urged the public to reach out to their loved ones.

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He said: "My only message is that you're not alone. No matter what happens in life, there's going to be people who will support you, in a dark place there is light. If you know someone who is feeling down, chat to them, talk to them, give them your time because it could save their life."

To find out about Marcus's fundraiser, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/marcuss-fund-for-mind-namh

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