Trio complete 775-mile ride to 12 Premiership rugby grounds for charities

PUBLISHED: 16:00 24 October 2019

The group stopped off at Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium. Picture: Henriette Lang Photography

The group stopped off at Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium. Picture: Henriette Lang Photography

Archant

A Weston man has completed a gruelling bike ride, all in the name of charity.

The cyclists outside Exeter Chief's Sandy Park stadium. Picture: Henriette Lang PhotographyThe cyclists outside Exeter Chief's Sandy Park stadium. Picture: Henriette Lang Photography

John Marshall was part of a team of three riders who completed the Pedal The Premiership ride, visiting all 12 Premiership rugby union grounds in the country in seven days.

John, alongside friends Stuart Baker and Trevor Abraham, began their journey at Sale, near Manchester, on October 15 and cycled an average of 110 miles per day and in total cycled 775 miles.

The group finished their ride at Coventry's Ricoh Arena on Sunday in time for the start of the Premiership season.

They aimed to raise awareness of men's mental health and chose the 12 grounds to symbolise the fact that on average, 12 men in the UK commit suicide each day.

After retiring from rugby, Stuart became very ill with anxiety and depression which led to a couple of suicide attempts.

He has since found his peace and wants to try and help others.

Former Scotland international Jim Hamilton joined the group on their journey. Picture: Henriette Lang PhotographyFormer Scotland international Jim Hamilton joined the group on their journey. Picture: Henriette Lang Photography

He told the Mercury: "It was a great experience and tough mentally more than physically, each day was a challenge.

"The reception we received at every club was amazing, Sale and Bath donated shirts signed by the players and Wasps interviewed us pitch side and featured us in the match day programme."

Stuart reached out to John earlier this year and asked him if he would join him on the epic ride to help raise awareness.

John's wife Lucy added: "At the time, John was over weight and had just been diagnosed with type two diabetes.

"John has trained hard for this ride, I have barely seen him and he has lost massive amounts of weight and has reversed his diabetes.

"I couldn't be more proud of what they have achieved."

The group has raised almost £3,000 for Mental Health UK and Restart Rugby, the official charity of the Rugby Players Association, which supports professional players forced to retire through illness or injury.

Along their journey the trio have received support on social media from Australian international James O'Connor and England World Cup winning centre Will Greenwood, while former Saracens and Scotland lock Jim Hamilton joined the group for 60 miles of the trek.

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