A psychiatric nurse from Metheringham is preparing to take on an arduous 62-mile ultra-marathon in memory of her late brother.
“I had never run anything in my life, barring to school if I was late,” exclaimed Julie Flanighan.
Starting with a 5k race a few years ago, the 45-year-old worked her way up to longer distances, including several half marathons and full marathons. Now she has set her mind on tackling a gruelling 100k race for one of the charities which supported her brother during a difficult time in his life.
Julie’s brother Scott left the Army suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and despite treatment, died by suicide in 2013.
Julie explained that when Scott left the Army, he found it ‘incredibly difficult to readjust to normal life and struggling with PTSD’. He spent time on and off medication and ‘in and out of psychiatric wards’, she said, adding that ‘at the time, PTSD was not something that people readily talked about or knew how to manage’. Scott received help through the Army’s recovery centre, who pointed him in the direction of a charity called Combat Stress.
Julie said: “He did appear to recover for a few years, but sadly in July 2013 he could not fight his battle any longer and took his own life.”
Julie had always wanted to be a nurse, but said her brother’s illness steered her in the direction of a career in psychiatry. Determined to do even more to help, she decided to run and raise money to honour the work that Combat Stress had done for her brother - and to hopefully prevent more people taking their lives.
“I started small with the odd 5k, and Race For Life events until I progressed to 10k,” she said. “However, I didn’t stop here, I went on to complete two half marathons in aid of Combat Stress.”
In 2017, Julie completed her first full marathon, raising thousands for The Royal British Legion. This year she has decided to complete Dixon Carphone’s Race to the Stones in July for Help for Heroes. The race trail will see her running past ancient monuments and the stunning Chiltern Hills in High Wycombe, all while ascending 3,704ft.
Julie said: “This will be my biggest and most epic challenge yet, and I cannot wait. I feel I must keep challenging myself, and what better way to keep my mind active and occupied than through exercise.”
Julie hopes to raise even more awareness of mental health issues and the huge impact it has on lives.
She added: “Scott once said, ‘you don’t have to die in battle to lose your life’, and sadly that’s something our military knows only too well.”
l To support Julie, visit her fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Julie-flanighan1