Chris takes on ultra-marathon for mental health support

A WOKING man is taking part in a 100km ultra marathon to raise money and awareness to help tackle mental health problems.

Chris Searle, who has worked for various police services over the past nine years, lost his mother, Debbie, when she committed suicide aged 46, in 2011.

Chris with his medal for completeting the Leicester Marathon

Chris, who is working as a major crime research analyst for the Avon and Somerset Police, ran his first marathon in 2016 in Leicester, in memory of his mother, who was born and grew up in the East Midlands city.

He has run a second marathon and a couple of half marathons, all in aid of mental health charities.

Chris has decided to take on the Jurassic Coast Challenge on May 15, covering 100km (62 miles) from Poole to Bridport.

“Due to the current pandemic, there has been an astronomical increase in suicides, mental health related incidents, and referrals to the NHS across Surrey and the rest of the country,” he said.

“COVID-19 will have a long-lasting adverse effect on a large proportion of the nation’s mental health.”

Chris hopes to raise at least £1,000 for the Mental Health Foundation, pledging £500 of his own money.

He moved to Bristol to work for Avon and Somerset Police, but is working from home and last year moved back to Woking while keeping the same job.

Later this year Chris will start training to become a detective constable. “My ambition is to go as far as I can in the police,” he said.

He has previously served as a frontline police officer and said many of the incidents he dealt with were horrific and involved people with mental health difficulties.

TEST OF STAMINA – Chris Searle is no stranger to running marathons but he will be facing his toughest task in the Jurassic Coast Challenge

The Jurassic Coast Challenge involves a variety of distances, with many of the participants walking rather than running and some camping overnight.

Chris has chosen the toughest option of completing the full 100km route in a day and has set himself a goal of finishing in 10½ hours.

Like most ultra-distance athletes, he will be doing a combination of running and jogging with power-walking intervals.

“It is a very well organised event with food and drink and massages available.

“The coastline is probably one of the most beautiful in the country, which will help. But this will be the toughest thing I’ve ever done,” Chris said.

He is training regularly around his work and is covering distances of up to 50km at weekends.

Chris is keeping to a healthy diet and doing core and leg training at home.

“This is about helping people. My legs might get tired but there are people going through unimaginable battles,” he said.

Chris has lived in various places around Britain during his university studies and police career but has been drawn back to Woking after growing up in the area.

“I have a large support network of friends in the borough and Woking is probably one of the strongest towns in Surrey,” he said.

Chris said that when the pandemic restrictions are lifted sufficiently, he would like to set up a local support group for people with mental health problems.

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