Two moustachioed men wearing construction gear pose at the end of a marathon run they've just completed in Toronto
"We hope to raise awareness for our brothers and sisters in the union.'Image by: Max Pinkerton
Two moustachioed men wearing construction gear pose at the end of a marathon run they've just completed in Toronto
6 November 2023

This moustachioed man ran a marathon in construction gear to raise awareness for men’s health

4 minutes read time

Getting involved to break down barriers

I became a Mo Bro 8 years ago when I joined the McMaster rugby team. The team had an established Movember campaign, raising money and raising awareness every year.

They really helped to break down the barriers to talking about mental health, creating an avenue to have those conversations, in an environment where you’re often expected to be tough. In sports like rugby, you’re told to just power through, never talk about weaknesses, or show emotion. You’re “supposed to be” strong, powerful, and never talk about your mental health. When I finished university I went into the construction industry, where you could see the similarities. My fellow Mo Bro and I have been trying to think of ways to bring Movember’s message into this space.

Running a marathon in construction gear

For the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to bring our union in and to attract more attention to Movember’s mission. So, this year we decided to run a marathon. And I decided to do it in construction gear. Our goal was to raise awareness. We see how scared some guys are when they don’t want to talk about mental health, especially in environments where you’re expected to be strong. In this industry, it’s expected that you show up every day, and be able to withstand pressures, both physical and emotional. We hope to raise awareness for our brothers and sisters in the union, so they know it’s okay to not be okay.

Setting the standard

I had some bad concussions and COVID definitely impacted my own mental health. My mom always used to say to me, “I’m not a mind reader!”, which taught me I really have to be honest about what’s going on. And that’s been something we always brought to the rugby team – honest conversations.

When someone on the team lost someone close to them, we all rallied around him. Without Movember, I hardly think the conversation that we ended up having -- of just being honest and open, a bunch of rugby guys crying in a room together -- would have happened. All of those little instances of being open and creating that safe space on the team helped facilitate that important conversation during an even harder time.

Creating your support network

I’ve always thought of it like a spiderweb. I have my people that I go to with any of the stresses going on at the time, and they can come to me with the same. We transfer the load. It can be stressful when you know something’s going on with someone, but they don’t want to talk about it. But again, that’s when I turn to that web. I may not share exact details with people, but I’ll let them know, “Guys, we need to look out for friend A. Let’s put in a better effort with them.”

The more you get used to tapping that network, the more ready everyone is to talk about it when the time comes.

There might be times when you don’t want to talk to anybody about something. I went through this during COVID. I was surrounded by some of my closest friends, but I didn’t want to talk to them. At the same time, I knew I needed to talk to somebody. So, I found a hotline. That was my emergency brake, my parachute, when my ego got in the way. It taught me more about myself, so I can better know what’s going on with my mental health, and what I might need. I had conversations with friends afterwards, telling them about what happened and that I had started taking medication, so they could understand my headspace a little better. That way, they can look out for you if you return to that place down the road.

Take the leap of faith and open up that vulnerability. Your friends are your friends for a reason.

Support Max’s mission to change the face of men’s health.