Ivan Castro (left) and Karl Hinnett (right) run of back-to-back marathons to raise awareness for mental health.
B. d Major Ivan Castro ran his first marathon about a year after he was severely injured and blinded in both eyes during combat operations in Iraq in 2006.
The Marine Corps Marathon was the first goal that he, to prove to himself and others how far he had gone in his recovery.
“I was lying in bed and the nurse was talking about… It was my first goal – I could hardly stand,” Castro told Fox News. “I’ve always been someone who likes challenges, to push against the current and prove to others.”
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Since then, the 49-year-old, who recently retired from the Army after 28 years, has fought mentally and physically to complete more than 50 marathons, trek to the south pole and climbing mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
On Monday, Castro will walk 26.2 miles at the Boston Marathon, in addition to and tied to Karl Hinett, a 30-year-old U. K military veteran who survived life-threatening burns on his body of 2005, an attack in Iraq.
“It’s going to be a painful, each step is going to suck,” Castro said. “(But we remember that we, for our brothers and sisters. We go there for.”
A few days after the finish of the race, the two veterans cross the Atlantic ocean and the run of the 2-17 Virgin Money London Marathon on 23 April – 6 days apart.
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They are running back-to-back marathons to raise awareness for mental health issues when it comes to veterans.
They have teamed up with the Heads Together, the mental health initiative founded last year by the british Prince Harry, Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
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The british Prince Harry talks with a US army veteran Ivan Castro (C) and British army veteran Karl Hinett (L), that will run on the Boston and London Marathons for the Heads Together Campaign..
“Many of the military veterans feel the stigma (mental health) and its influence in a negative way,” Hinett told Fox News. “The whole idea is for the stigma, to make them aware that it’s ok to say ‘I need help.'”
“We want to change the conversation. We place so much value on the physical and we must do the same with our thoughts,” Castro said.
Both Castro and Hinett understand first-hand the psychological problems of soldiers and veterans face, while at home and on deployment. For them, running was a therapy of sorts that has taken them to the most remote places in the world.
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A British soldier makes his way out of a burning Warrior fighting vehicle in Basra, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad Monday Sept. 19, 2005.
(AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
Hinett was 19 when his Warrior tank received a direct hit from a petrol bomb, while serving in Basra, Iraq in 2005. A photo of the tank in flames has become an enduring image of the war in Iraq.
Monday marks Hinett 150th match and in London, it will be the 10th anniversary of his first marathon.
He added that the fact that he would be tied to Castro is “a great symbol” of what they are trying to reach.
“It’s going to be very tiring,” he said about the races. “The idea of the back-to-back marathons is to increase high awareness… We are real and survive together.”
The two runners are training separately, but remained in constant contact during the whole process.
Both said they hope veterans and military personnel from the United States and the united kingdom are inspired to break out of the stigma, and to ask for help if they need it.
“We are in this together,” Castro said.
Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a News Editor/Writer for FoxNews.com.
Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang