SA man's race to smash world record with 133 consecutive half marathons

15 April 2021 - 08:00 By orrin singh
Johannesburg businessman Henry Cock will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive half marathons in the name of raising awareness on mental health.
Johannesburg businessman Henry Cock will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive half marathons in the name of raising awareness on mental health.
Image: Supplied

A Johannesburg businessman is gearing up to break the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive half marathons completed in a row, all with the aim of uplifting people struggling with mental health.

Henry Cock, 34, is training to take on 133 consecutive half marathons over 133 days, covering a distance of 2,800km. His epic attempt will start in Kosi Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal and end in Vioolsdrift in Namibia. If he finishes, he'll break the current record for men, which stands at 75.

Cock, who admits he is not a professional athlete, is taking on this feat in an attempt to dismantle mental health stigma and be a beacon of hope to those who suffer in silence.

Having battled depression and anxiety in recent years due to the dissolution of his long- term relationship, the strain that the ongoing pandemic has had on his businesses, as well as the daily personal struggles, Henry has his eyes fixed on completing this mammoth challenge.

“I only became aware of my mental health issues in 2019. The more I started to delve into my personal experiences, the more I began to understand how important mental health is, and the more I learnt that it is still a very stigmatised and taboo subject.

I want people to know that it is okay to tell people you’re struggling with your mental health. It doesn’t mean your life is over...
Henry Cock

He said it took him months of therapy to work up the courage and put himself on medicine, and admit to the people he cared about the most that he suffered from anxiety.

“It takes great courage to speak out and recognise that you suffer from a mental disorder. The more we can open the conversation surrounding mental health, the greater the understanding and empathy will be with those that suffer.” 

His ambitions go beyond that of raising awareness as he aims to garner R6m to support the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), an organisation on the forefront of patient advocacy, education and de-stigmatisation of mental illness in SA.

Through his crowdfunding campaign Mentally Aweh launched on BackaBuddy, Cock hopes to reach out to those affected by a “new wave of mental health concern” due to isolation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I want people to know that it is OK to tell people you’re struggling with your mental health. It doesn’t mean your life is over, or that you’re different or weird — and it’s OK to take medication for it. These things all help, they’re not there to be stigmatised or laughed at or looked down upon as a weakness. The misconception that this problem has no solution is simply not true,” he said.

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