Michael Burton, DublinImage by: Movember
25 August 2022

32 half Ironmans, in 32 days, in 32 counties

4 minutes read time

Running 32 half Ironman distance races, in 32 counties of Ireland, in 32 days.

We got the chance to speak to the epic Mick Burton about why he is doing this for Movember.

Having gone through mental health struggles between the ages of 15 to 24, I am thrilled to now be a part of helping Movember to raise awareness of men’s mental health.

The biggest challenge I have faced is suicidal thoughts. Being a young man, not knowing what was going on with my feelings or understanding how to deal with them, led me to a near 10-year spell of heavy drinking and substance abuse. It was a form of escapism which made the situation 10 times worse.

Something that has really helped me was getting back into sport. Lockdown was a different experience for everyone, but for me the beginning of lockdown was a real turning point in helping me get into sport again.

I was living an unhealthy lifestyle and the lack of opportunity for socialising gave me the opportunity to begin running again.

As the 5K challenges began to emerge on Instagram, my friends encouraged me to get out running with them, engaging my competitive side. Once I had this going for a few weeks, I began to eat more healthily, get better sleep and see a serious difference in how I both looked and felt.

" Lockdown was a different experience for everyone, but for me the beginning of lockdown was a real turning point in helping me get into sport again "

As I got fitter, I got into triathlons. This is now what I use to keep myself both physically and mentally fit. The intense training is not only good for my body and keeping me fit and healthy, but it also positively influences my mental health. From my mindset around training and competition, to the boosts of endorphins and better sleep it gives me, triathlon really helps me stay on track with my overall health.

This led to me wanting to take part in my current fundraising challenge of running 32 half Ironman distances, in 32 counties of Ireland, in 32 days.

Other than exercise, I attend therapy sessions and work on positive coping mechanisms through things such as CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) to help me stay mentally well.

I make a conscious effort to talk to my friends, mum or girlfriend when I am not feeling okay. This is something which I used to find really difficult, but since going to therapy and beginning to open up to people more, I realise that this is something which always boosts the way I feel during difficult times.

Over the years, my friendships have changed massively. I see in my predominantly male friendship group now, the openness of conversations which we have with each other is completely different, compared to what we had between the ages of 17 and 20.

I genuinely think it's amazing the way in which my friendships have developed over the years. We are lucky that none of us really struggle anymore in opening up to each other. We let someone know when things aren’t going well or when they just need someone to chat to, even using phrases like ‘I love you’ and telling your friends how much they mean to you is common within our circle. It is something I love and am really proud of.

With a few the lads in different locations across the world, we are always picking up the phone to check in with each other and make sure things are going okay.

I am so grateful for the friends I have and the relationship which I have with all of them.

One of the biggest challenges that I think men face today is the stigma around speaking out about problems and issues they are having.

So many men still think that they have to go through these struggles alone - whether this be addiction, mental health challenges or health issues.

I believe this is one of the key factors in the high rate of suicide amongst males and I hope that speaking about my story can influence even one man to talk to someone about how they are feeling.

My message to all men is to speak to someone - no matter what the situation is, good or bad, speak!

To follow or support Mick on his epic journey, you can follow his Instagram:

Got a friend you’d like to reach out to but don’t quite know how? 

Movember Conversations is an online mental health tool designed to provide practical guidance on how to support the men in your life who might be struggling.