Former Wales winger Dafydd James has completed his 31-day marathon fundraising challenge to help raise awareness of mental health and support two charities close to his heart.
The 45-year-old covered 26.2 miles every day throughout January by either rowing, cycling or running to raise money for mental health charity Hafal and The Noah’s Ark Charity.
James completed his final marathon on the coastal path at Rest Bay, Porthcawl with his eldest son and he has already surpassed his initial fundraising target of £1,000.
And having previously spoken out about his own struggles after he was forced to retire due to a fractured vertebra in his neck, James is hoping his efforts can help others in a similar place.
“It’s a difficult month for a lot of people struggling with mental health,” he told BBC Sport Wales. “If they can get a glimmer hope from what I’m doing, then job done.”
James won 48 caps for Wales during his 12-year international career while he also played in three Tests for the British & Irish Lions on their 2001 Tour to Australia.
But while the daily physical exertion of covering a marathon took a toll on his body, James admitted that the most difficult aspect of his January challenge was planning his schedule.
“I’d think ‘oh god I’ve got five hours of doing some form of exercise’ which can be quite daunting for a lot of people, but I managed to switch off a little bit and just focus day by day,” he said.
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“It has been difficult, my joints as I’m walking down the stairs are creaking and hurting now.”
James believes the ‘January Blues’ was escalated this year due to the country being in lockdown, which prompted him to test himself physically and mentally to shine a light on the issue.
“Everybody has issues, some people just shelter away from it,” he added.
“I’m trying to break the stigma with male mental health. I know a lot of people (males and females) are struggling out there, losing their jobs, being stuck indoors. It’s okay not to be okay.”