By clambering over rocks and storming over mountains, Oamaru runner Matt Davey hopes to help raise awareness about mental health and the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Mr Davey, formerly of Canterbury, has experienced depression off and on for much of his life.
He is planning an ambitious challenge to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand in partnership with a local gym’s fitness event.
In late October, Mr Davey plans to run three of the highest mountains in North Otago – Mt Kohurau (2009m), Mt Domett (1942m) and Mt Bitterness (1910m) – within 24 hours.
He wants to take such a public stand to thank those who have helped him with depression and to help other people who are dealing with depression.
He described living with depression as taxing.
“You just have days where you have no motivation at all. You don’t want to talk to people or do anything at all.
“It’s quite hard. It’s confusing. You don’t know why you get so down.”
He said people with depression needed understanding rather than being told to get over it or any other dismissive statement.
“There are days when you have no reason to feel depressed, but it’s still there.”
One of the reasons he had chosen to do a mountain run of such length was that he had found a lot of relief from the illness through participating in exercise.
“I just do a lot of tramping and running. It’s been an escape.”
Training for the event has included the odd 20km run at weekends.
His advice to people who had depression was to tell people they trusted.
“Everyone says it, but don’t be afraid to speak up.
“My parents could tell something was wrong. I’d try and tell them I was fine. I was too scared to admit I wasn’t right.
“People are more understanding than you think they’ll be.”
To donate to Mr Davey’s cause, head to 8weekchallenge.co.nz/mattdavey.