Running for mental health: Son takes on Christchurch Marathon after tragedy

By Kristie Boland

Devon Rutter. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Devon Rutter. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Less than a year on from his father’s death, Devon Rutter is running his first marathon – to cope with his grief and raise money to improve suicide awareness.

Rutter, 24, will be lining up in the ASB Christchurch Marathon on Sunday with more than 4000 other participants.

This year’s marathon marks a return of the event, which was cancelled last year due to Covid-19.

Rutter said he wanted to make something positive come out of his father’s suspected suicide, so was running to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.

He has so far raised more than $2000. He has used running as a way to cope after his father died last July.

Rutter is training hard for his first race.

Devon Rutter. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Devon Rutter. Photo: Geoff Sloan
He said running and mental health went hand in hand, and allowed him to process what needed to be processed.

“Running allowed me to tap into [my] emotions,” he said.

When he struggles with a run, too, he remembers the support he has received from donors, which keeps him going.

“If I’m running and struggling with a certain distance, it’s like these people are behind you.”

Once runners raise more than $200 they receive a t-shirt from the foundation.

Anna Scarlett, 36, will also be competing for the first time in the half-marathon, and is raising money for the foundation in honour of her friend Kim, who she lost to suspected suicide last August.

Scarlett has already been raising awareness for mental health with her project ‘Kim’s Rocks’, in which she leaves rocks on tracks around Christchurch and places of significance as a tribute to her friend.

The rocks have positive messages and the Lifeline number on them.

Scarlett intends to place a rock at the start line during the half marathon and another two at Hagley Park. She has connected with others through Facebook in the United Kingdom and United States who are also placing rocks in memory of those they have lost to suicide.

“They’ve sent rocks to me and I’ve sent rocks to them. I’ve placed their rocks and they’ve placed mine.”

So far, more than $17,000 has been raised for the foundation by people entered in the marathon.

Foundation spokesman Mark Wilson said Rutter and Scarlett epitomised the values of the foundation’s fundraisers.

“They’re committed to the cause by setting personal goals and are driven to make positive change as part of their response to a tragic life experience.”

To donate to the runners visit https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/event/christchurch-marathon-2021

 

 

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