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Solent Mind fundraiser breaks world record

Guinness World Record winner raises £11,000 for Solent Mind – cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and back again.

Trigger Warning: The following article contains references to suicide.

Marcia Roberts, from Portsmouth, has become the fastest female to cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and back again – an amazing achievement which earned her a Guinness World Record (GWR).

She also raised £11,000 for Solent Mind. If you would like ideas how you can raise money for Solent Mind, go to the fundraising page: https://www.solentmind.org.uk/...

“I chose Solent Mind because of the pandemic. I guessed that the ability of charities, like Solent Mind, to fundraise could be affected by it. I also felt that people’s mental health would really take a battering.

“I had friends who were going through a really bad time and needed mental services. It was knowing the need for these services was going to be even bigger than it before that led me to choose the charity.

“I had counselling myself after a family member died because I needed to understand my feelings towards that death. Through that counselling, I discovered a whole lot of stuff about myself that I had been carrying around for forty years.

“The need for mental health services can hit anyone at any time.”

Marcia explains that because people knew she was raising money for Solent Mind it meant she was able to have a lot of conversations around the issue of mental wellbeing when she talked on Facebook.

She says that she talked about the fact that whatever mental challenges she faced during the ride, “it was nowhere close to what many other people live with daily”.

“I would say: ‘I am standing under a bridge to escape the rain. Many other people can’t escape the rain, and this is why we need to raise awareness and funds for Solent Mind.’”

Marcia adds: “At least three people who came out and rode alongside me, did so because of their own mental health problems and because they really wanted to tell me about their experiences. So, I wrote about it on my blog, or I got them to write a piece about cycling and how it helped them to deal with their mental health”.

One man rode a particular part of the route with Marcia. He came out to meet her at midnight and rode from Wales to the Severn Bridge because, as she explains: “He wanted to tell me how he nearly jumped from the Severn Bridge but was saved by someone who was driving past; and how much it meant to him that people like me were doing these challenges to raise awareness about mental health”.

The ride came about because Marcia is a keen cyclist and had been training for a year, with a coach, for an event in the Netherlands which involved cycling 1200 miles. Covid meant, though, that the event had to be postponed.

“I didn’t have the motivation to keep training for something that I might never be able to take part in,” says Marcia. “So, I thought: ‘What else can I do?’ I had always fancied breaking a record, but I knew I wasn’t fast enough to break someone else’s record; so, I knew I had to be the first at something.”

Marcia did some research and realised that whilst lots of people had cycled from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, no female had ever cycled there and back again. So, she decided the bicycle ride would be her challenge – and 1752-miles later – she completed it.

“I didn’t have a support crew like many people who’ve attempted these kinds of records which made it extremely daunting, but I did it in 11 days, 13 hours and 13 minutes, through storm Francis, with severe sleep deprivation, wet clothes and ‘saddle sore’. Riding for hours and hours in damp cycling shorts is pretty much impossible to avoid so I am really chuffed with my time.

“But, whatever the challenges, I raised money for charity and had over a thousand people following me on social media up and down the country who kept me going. It made so much difference.”

Marcia laughs, “I began to understand what it must feel like to be famous, doing something for charity, like Davina McCall. People following me on social media, who could see where I was, would come out and cheer me on at the side of the road. One person flagged me down in a lay-by and gave me some money for Solent Mind. If it hadn’t been for those people, there were moments when I might have packed it in. I can’t thank all my supporters enough.”

For more information on Marcia’s journey visit her JustGiving page here: https://buff.ly/31m3mqp

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