Sheffield man hopes to break world record for fastest marathon dressed as a pint of Guinness
A Sheffield man who served as a nurse on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic is attempting to break the world record for running the London marathon dressed as a pint of beer and raise money for his colleagues’ support.
Joan Pons Laplana, who worked in the intensive care units on the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, will undertake his unusual challenge on October 3. The time to beat is four hours, and the week before he will also run the Sheffield Half Marathon dressed in the costume to practise.
He is running to raise money to support NHS workers who are struggling with their mental health – an issue that is personal to him as his front line work for the NHS left him with PTSD.
Mr Laplana explained: “The last two years have been very hard for everybody and especially for me and my frontline NHS colleagues.
“During the first and second wave of the COVID pandemic, I was redeployed into the intensive care unit (ICU). The work was bleak, and the experience hit me hard both emotionally and physically. At the end of second wave I was diagnosed with PTSD.
“Initially I felt like a failure. I was ashamed to have had problems with his mental health. But thanks to the support available in my hospital I started therapy straight away and gradually regained my balance.
"With the help of the psychologist, I came to understand that mental imbalance is nothing to be ashamed of. My mental state was the result of the situation I had found myself in and many years of neglecting and not taking care of my mental health.
"I realised that stress and anxiety are illnesses that could affect everyone.”
Since then, Mr Laplana has been raising awareness around mental health and trying to break the taboo surrounding opening up about mental health.
He has already taken on numerous fundraising challenges, and in July he became the first man to summit Snowden dressed as a pint of beer.
And now, with the goal of raising £10,000 for the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, he hopes to set more records.
Mr Laplana added: “Taking care of mental health is not a weakness – quite the opposite. The bravest thing a person can do is ask for help when they need it.
“Following a new year resolution and as part of my recovery plan, I started to run and on the 8th of February got an email congratulating me on getting a place in the 2021 London Marathon – the biggest marathon ever staged.
“That was the goal I needed, and I have regularly been training hard ever since. I have also joined my local running club and since February I have lost over 3 stone, but the most important thing is that my mental health and physical health have improved significantly.
You can donate to Mr Laplana’s fundraiser on his Virgin Money Giving page. You can also text CHEERSNURSE to 70085 to donate £4 to Cavell Nurses’ Trust.
"This is the perfect opportunity for people to say thanks to all nurses and frontline staff that have work tirelessly during the pandemic fighting one of the deadliest viruses in human history: the Coronavirus,” Mr Laplana added.