Servicewoman Sergeant Naomi Benson will run for 24 hours around a running track in Tidworth, Wiltshire, with a 3kg medicine ball strapped to her wrist to raise awareness of, and encourage and normalise conversations about, military and civilian mental health.
The gruelling challenge at Tidworth Oval athletics track will begin at 6am Wednesday 9 February and end at 6am Thursday 10 February. Sgt Benson will stop only for comfort breaks as she attempts to complete a staggering 204 laps minimum of the 400m track during this time.
The medicine ball she will be carrying will represent the unseen burden of mental health problems. Her event is part of the nationwide fundraising ‘Medicine Ball Challenge’, which is raising money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress.
After completing her exhausting challenge, 34 year old Sgt Benson will remain handcuffed to the ball for an additional six days to encourage more conversations about mental health among those she encounters during that time.
Sgt Benson, stationed at Regional Command – the Army’s HQ for the UK – said:
“I chose to take on the Medicine Ball Challenge because I love what it represents. The unusual concept of being handcuffed to the ball strikes up conversation and gets people talking about mental health, something that is so often invisible and forgotten.
“I decided to go one step further by taking on this running challenge, as I thought it would raise even greater awareness. I decided on 24 hours to represent how mental health can affect people at any time of the day or night.
“I’m expecting it to be incredibly tough, but I’m hoping that by pushing myself to the limits, I will inspire others to take on the Medicine Ball Challenge and do their bit for those struggling with their mental health.”
Robert Marsh, Director of Fundraising at Combat Stress, said:
“We are incredibly grateful to everyone who takes on the Medicine Ball Challenge, but to take on such a gruelling endurance challenge on top of that is truly staggering.
“We will be cheering Sgt Benson on through every step she takes in those 24 hours, and I am confident that her efforts will inspire others to do their bit to support those with mental health problems.”
Sean Bonnington, Director of National Fundraising at ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, said:
“Running around a track for 24 hours with a 3kg medicine ball cuffed to your wrist is unbelievably tough and so we are enormously grateful that Naomi has decided to undertake this challenge to raise money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Combat Stress.
“Her efforts will not only help us continue to support serving and ex-Army personnel struggling with mental health issues, but raise awareness of, and encourage constructive conversations around mental health issues.”
Sgt Benson will be supported during the event by both friends and strangers alike, who have volunteered their time to help at checkpoints with water, food and spare clothes, and even run a few laps alongside her.
To support her challenge, visit: https://events.soldierscharity.org/fundraisers/naomibenson/medicine-ball-challenge
About the Medicine Ball Challenge:
Created by a serving soldier and former officer who have seen their families and friends struggle with mental health, the Medicine Ball Challenge is about starting conversations – encouraging people to speak freely about mental health while undertaking the 7 day challenge.
The challenge involves cuffing a 3kg medicine ball to your wrist for 7 days. It may not sound that heavy but being chained to the medicine ball continuously for seven days is a significant burden. The ball becomes a physical, visual and tangible representation of the invisible burden of mental health so many of us can experience.
To find out more visit https://events.soldierscharity.org/event/medicine-ball-challenge/home