University student's emotional end to year-long running challenge after completing 1700kms for mental health

University student's emotional end to year-long running challenge after completing 1700kms for mental health

Dragging himself out the door for a run every day for a year came as a challenge at times for Aidan Barbour-Ryan, but the overbearing determination to make a difference pushed him outside.

Through pouring rain or extreme heat in summer, the Otago University student took to urban and rural areas around Dunedin, completing more than 1700km over 365 days.

The 21-year-old pledged himself to raise money for mental health services and wanted to illustrate the positive effects exercise can have on the mind.   

On Thursday it came to an emotional end when Barbour-Ryan completed the last of his quick-paced journeys. After catching his breath, he told Newshub how he was feeling.

"Never would I have thought I was capable of something like this, but I’ve had amazing support from so many great people and it’s all been for a great cause which has really helped me reach the end."

University student's emotional end to year-long running challenge after completing 1700kms for mental health
Photo credit: Supplied / David Risdon

He was inspired by YouTuber 'HellahGood' who had been documenting his journey while setting out on a run every day for a year. 

"I thought it was such a cool idea and thought I’d give it a go myself," he says.

Barbour-Ryan gave himself just a week at first to see how he got on before developing his idea further and seeing the opportunity to help people around him.

"After a few weeks, I decided I wanted to do a little bit more and started Run365ForLife.

"I know so many people who have either dealt with mental health problems or are currently dealing with them," he told Newshub.

"It's such a massive problem here in New Zealand, and I don't feel there is enough open communication around it.

He found the hardest runs were in the first few weeks while building strength in his legs.  

University student's emotional end to year-long running challenge after completing 1700kms for mental health
Photo credit: Supplied / David Risdon

"They definitely got sore because my body wasn’t used to long distance running but after a couple of weeks I felt my body adapt and it definitely got a lot easier from there on in."

Motivation came in small doses at times, struggling through streaks of a few days at a time where he didn't want to leave the house when the weather wasn't on his side.

He says now he is super proud of what he has been able to achieve while realising his full capabilities.

A personal goal that Barbour-Ryan is hoping to achieve is bringing value to people through his running while raising money for the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust, so far collecting more than $2500.

"I want people to see what I do and feel inspired," he explained.

And as for what's next: "I'm excited to finally have a nice relaxing day off."

Newshub.

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