Dafydd James completes 31-day marathon challenge

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Dafydd James won 48 caps for Wales and represented the Lions in three Tests during the 2001 tour of Australia

Former Wales winger Dafydd James has completed his epic ‘marathon a day’ challenge in January.

The ultra fit 45-year-old covered the daily 26.2 mile distance either by rowing, cycling or running to raise money for two charities close to his heart and awareness of mental health.

“It’s a difficult month for a lot of people struggling with mental health,” he told BBC Sport Wales.

“If they can glimmer hope from what I’m doing then job done.”

James has previously spoken out about his struggles, admitting he fell into a “dark hole” when a fractured vertebra in his neck forced him into retirement.

James said the ‘January blues’ has been escalated this year with the country in its third national coronavirus lockdown.

He said the idea of the marathons was to “give something back” and test him both physically and mentally.

He admits the worst part was planning the night before.

“I’d think ‘oh god I’ve got five hours of doing some form of exercise’ which can be quite daunting for a lot of people, but I managed to switch off a little bit and just focus day by day.

“It has been difficult, my joints as I’m walking down the stairs are creaking and hurting now.”

But he says it is all worth it if he can help other people.

“Everybody has issues, some people just shelter away from it.

“I’m trying to break the stigma with male mental health. I know a lot of people (males and females) are struggling out there, losing their jobs, being stuck indoors.

“It’s okay not to be okay.”

James has already surpassed his target of raising £1,000 for the mental health charity Hafal and The Noah’s Ark Charity which he says he has an affinity to after his second son “had a few issues”.

He completed the final marathon on the coastal path at Rest Bay, Portcawl with his eldest son and his ever-present cocker spaniel.

The BBC has collated links and resources for anyone affected by mental health issues. You can find that here.



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