Army Veteran Talks Coping With PTSD & Depression After Latest Epic Challenge

Former Army Major Rob Shenton has told Forces Network about coping with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after...

Former Army Major Rob Shenton has told Forces Network about coping with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after completing a trio of extreme marathons by taking on the North Pole in April.

Having served in the military for more than 21 years, he was medically discharged in 2016 - but running has always been one of his coping strategies.

The ultramarathon runner has just taken on the 'Race to the King', 53 miles of the South Downs Way that's just the latest on this ex-military man's growing list of epic marathons.

British Army veteran ultrarunner Rob Shenton

The organisers asked Rob to do a short presentation to the 1,000 or so competitors at the start line, highlighting the importance of recognising and dealing with mental health.

He's battled with depression for more than 18 years and admits it has hampered his life but running continues to help. He told Forces Network:

"You end up with coping strategies... It's just a matter of realising what your triggers are and being able to recognise them and being able to cope.

"I enjoy running quite a lot... I run every single day. Even if it's half a mile, I'll put my shorts on and my running shoes and go for a jog because I find it lifts my spirits."

Rob's North Pole marathon was the third piece of his own personal jigsaw.

Following the death of his father in 2009 from lung cancer, he was inspired to complete the toughest, highest and coldest marathons on earth.

He ran the Marathon Des Sables in 2011, followed by Mount Everest two years later.

The North Pole Marathon is the only certified marathon that is run entirely 'on' water - the frozen water of the Arctic Ocean - and is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the northernmost marathon on Earth. 

North Pole Marathon

Temperatures can drop down to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit and this was only the 16th time the event has been run.

Not only has the last fortnight been a time of recovery after another ultramarathon but it's also a very significant time of year for Rob.

It marks five years since he attempted suicide and is also the anniversary of his father's death. He said:

"For me, part of the recovery is being able to talk about my depression. I find that helps me... being able to talk openly about mental health, mental illness is a big step."

"I feel if I can talk about it, if I can prove to people from my background I can talk about it, then people will probably feel that they can as well.

"It's starting that conversation. In a way, it helps me because I feel I'm helping others."

Through his running, Rob has raised thousands of pounds for military charity Help for Heroes, which he says continues to support him.

He's confident there'll be plenty more epic adventures coming up but for now, he's going to concentrate on his fiancee Martha and their wedding.

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