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16 May 2024

Dawn’s story – Movement for Mental Health

When Racing Welfare’s chief executive, Dawn Goodfellow set her sights upon The AJ Bell Great North Run in 2023 to celebrate her 60th birthday, little did she know how much her decision to take on the challenge would change her life.

Upon hearing the news, Dawn’s husband Mike (almost!) immediately pledged his support and vowed to join her. The pair then embarked on a mission to get fit and signed up for Couch to 5k nine-week training programme resulting in their first Parkrun. Dawn said: “I can’t recommend it enough. Neither of us had done any running since probably our early twenties!”

The training continued and from there, the Parkrun became a weekly occurrence with a current tally of 65 completions each, including in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Italy. Aside from the physical health benefits, this new active way of life has in turn brought with it a wealth of additional advantages.

Dawn continues: “I used to laugh when people said it’s addictive, but it’s definitely changed our lives and I’m a bit obsessive about the Saturday Parkruns and going to the gym every day in the week if we can. Being physically fitter gives you greater mental and physical resilience and enables you to fit more in and still cope with it. It gives you that feeling of a serotonin and dopamine hit – I never feel better than when I’ve finished a 5k run on a high.

“It’s such an inclusive sporting event where you see every shape, size and age of participant. It’s very accessible and I truly believe if we can do it, anyone can do it.”

But it didn’t stop there. The journey to the end goal included Dawn climbing Scafell Pike with the Cheltenham team for their Dawn Runs challenge, and merely a week later both Dawn and Mike completed Racing Welfare’s Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge – no mean feat.

The pair did indeed go on to complete the Great North Run, taking on the 13.1-mile route from Newcastle to South Shields, and in doing so raised more than £10,000 for Racing Welfare. Now, Dawn has her sights set on the next challenge – a triathlon in August 2024.

Dawn said: “If you’d told me a few years ago what we would be able to do I wouldn’t have believed you! I’ve honestly never felt better and with every gym session, every Parkrun and every challenge there’s a great sense of achievement. I know that a lot of people in this industry have very active jobs, but actually for me this is about taking a bit of time for yourself, doing a bit of exercise outside of your normal routines that’s just for you and being a bit mindful about it.  

“It has become such an important part of my life and something which greatly helps with both mind and body. Even just taking the time to go for a walk at lunchtime can make a big difference to your wellbeing and the evidence supports that. From my personal perspective, starting that journey has been one of the best things I’ve done.”