A Kelowna resident is running an ultramarathon this fall to raise awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing.
Melissa Gosse said 2020 has been quite a trying year. It started off when the pandemic changed her plans to participate in ultramarathon races, which would’ve been her seventh year doing it.
“With COVID-19 hitting, a lot of my races were cancelled or deferred… and that in itself is definitely hard when that’s something you look forward to so much and you get so much from that sport,” she said.
“Of course, the unpredictability of the times right now is also tiring and hard. On top of that, I was also part of a tragic car accident a few months ago and I lost a friend to suicide this year as well. It’s been a lot.”
Mental health affects so many areas of people’s lives and deserves more attention, which is why she decided to run 100 kilometres from Vernon to Penticton to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
The run doesn’t have a specific date yet, but Gosse has said she’s aiming for either the last weekend in October or the first one in November.
She said she will have some friends and family who will help her on the day of the run, with some running with her and others waiting at checkpoints to cheer her on. She’s also received messages from the community offering to run the ultramarathon with her.
In all, she said she’s grateful and excited about the run. Currently, she’s been able to raise $1,070 so far of her $1,500 goal.
“The stigma that it’s embarrassing to talk about (mental health) has to go away because sometimes, it does end in tragedy. A lot of this is preventable.”
“For us to understand more about mental health issues, we need more people to open up about it. And I get it, it’s hard and requires vulnerability and courage, but the more people do it the more courageous we’ll feel. There is power in numbers,” she said.
Gosse said she hasn’t done a 100-kilometre course in a while, so her campaign for CMHA is also her way of challenging herself.
“This is new territory for me, so the support from everyone has been an amazing fuel for me. The support has been giving me inspiration and this has been one of the best things I’ve gotten to train for in my ultramarathon career.”