‘I watched my dad become a shell of himself’: 25-year-old tackles four ultra-marathons in memory of dad

A 25-year-old is taking on the mammoth challenge of completing four ultra-marathons next month to help shine a light on men’s health this “Movember”. 

Harry Cleary, 25, of Clapham Old Town, Clapham, will be attempting to run 56km each Saturday of November in memory of his dad, Graham Cleary, who died at the age of 56.

He said: “The distance represents the 56 years of my dad’s turbulent, but incredibly impactful life.

“My dad would never open up about his feelings.

“I want to show men the importance of talking and asking for help, if they need it.”  

Kicking off in Clapham on November 4, Mr Cleary will be running around London for the first three ultra-marathons. His last run, on November, 26, will be across Leeds, finishing inside Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium.

Harry Cleary in his running kit (Picture: Harry Cleary)

He said: “As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety myself, I sought physical outlets as healthy coping mechanisms. 

“Sadly, my dad didn’t have the same escapes and instead he leaned on the vices of life.

“Alcoholism, and the intertwined battle with his own mind, tragically claimed his life in February of this year. 

“As a young man, watching the male figurehead in your life pass away as a shell of the man he once was, is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

“I’m determined that won’t happen to me.” 

Mr Cleary took up running when his dad passed away. He will be donating his funds to the Movember charity, an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide.

He said: “I was seeking solace, direction and an escape from the haze of the extreme emotions I was experiencing. 

“It has placed me in the happiest and healthiest shape of my life, both physically and mentally, helping transform the toughest year of my life into the best year of my life.  

“I want to do all I can to highlight the issues I have faced, as well as my dad, to try and help other men. 

I think about him every day and I hope he’ll be looking down with pride as I complete these ultra marathons in order to stop men like him from dying far too young.

“I know I’ll be completing all my ultra marathons with my dad.” 

For more information on Harry’s challenge go to

Pictured top: Harry Cleary as a child with his dad, Graham Cleary (Picture: Harry Cleary)

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