Why a group of runners hope their Jebel Jais marathon will get people talking about mental health

Five runners are set to scale the UAE's tallest point on Friday

Five runners will race to the the highest point in the country to raise awareness for mental health issues. Unsplash
Five runners will race to the the highest point in the country to raise awareness for mental health issues. Unsplash

People often talk about the physical strains of the coronavirus and the ramifications the pandemic has had on businesses. But is enough being said about how it has affected mental health?

Many lost their jobs as the pandemic took hold, and those who didn’t may have found working from home has put a strain on their mental wellbeing.

Then there are the social distancing measures and the travel restrictions, as well as the grave news from around the world that seems to just keep coming.

It's easy to see how the past few months could have impacted a person’s mental health, which in turn can have serious consequences in all areas of your life.

That's why a group of runners in Ras Al Khaimah are planning to take on a marathon, in the hopes of raising awareness about mental health. On Friday, August 14, the five runners will scale the top of Jebel Jais and back, a distance spanning 42 kilometres, to raise funds for the Al Jalila Foundation.

Nasar Husain, a wall climbing instructor, has taken part in a number of marathons across the country. Unsplash
Nasar Husain, a wall climbing instructor, has taken part in a number of marathons across the country. Unsplash

“Many have been negatively affected by the pandemic,” Nasar Husain, an organiser of the event and one of the marathon runners, says. “In light of everything that’s been going on over the last few months, we thought it would be a good idea to communicate the importance of staying active, especially when it comes to our mental wellbeing. We want to inspire others to start talking about mental health issues, and how anxiety and depression can affect people."

Husain, who works as a wall-climbing instructor and is a frequent participant in local marathons, says the charity run is expected to take around six hours. The group will run to a check point near to Jebel Jais's summit – considered to be the highest point in the UAE – before running back.

“It’s a challenge definitely, but what better way to speak up about mental health than overcoming a challenge,” Husain says. “The five runners are all part of various fitness and endurance communities in the UAE.”

Husain says that they would have liked to invite more runners to participate with them but they had to be conscious of social distancing measures.

“There will be a few supporting runners who will participate in the event. They won’t run the whole distance but will be there as a show of support. Still, we are making sure not to let too many people take part,” he says. “Safety first.”

Updated: August 13, 2020 03:52 PM

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