We recently spoke with the founder of the Yeovil Marathon, a Royal Navy Air Engineer who developed PTSD during his last tour of Afghanistan in 2014.

Bryn Phillips received help from The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity during his rehabilitation process and was keen to give back to the charity. Soon after, Bryn founded the Yeovil Marathon. 

We ask him about his Royal Navy career, how his diagnosis affected him and why he chose to set up the Yeovil Marathon:

Are you able to give us a brief background on your career, challenges you've faced and finally what you have overcome?

Joined the Royal Navy in 1997 as an Air Engineer. Based mainly at RNAS Yeovilton working on Sea Harrier and Sea King Mk4 with a 2-year stint with the RAF at Wittering on the GR variant of the Harrier. The last 2 years have been at Yeovilton but working in the main Command Executive department looking after the Station Building Managers and Contractors. The biggest challenge throughout my time serving has been trying to maintain a healthy balance between work and family, especially where the family is young and do not fully understand why we have to spend time away. The hardest challenge I faced was developing PTSD during my last tour to Afghanistan 2014. The incident that triggered it was the RAF Voyager that went into an uncontrolled descent whilst cruising at 28000ft over the Dead Sea causing personnel and kit to flying around the cabin. At the time I didn’t seem to have any reaction to it as the engineering side of me put it down to faulty equipment. However, during the subsequent investigation, the fault was found to be massive human error and this is what triggered an anxiety over transport and travelling. Through receiving treatment straight away and recognising that something was wrong we managed to enable me to start using transport again and in particular fly. I will always have a certain amount of anxiety around flying now that was never there before but it is at least manageable.

What made you decide to organise the Yeovil Marathon and how has this impacted on your life?

I have always had a love for running and compete at quite a good standard. It was during my last tour in Afghan after the incident that I couldn’t focus on anything until I got to thinking about what races I had coming up when I got home, in particular, what my next marathon would be. That got me looking around the Somerset area for road marathons and more importantly those that were on a flat course to enable those quicker runners to gain qualifying times for any of the Marathon Majors. The more I delved into it I found that Yeovil has never had a marathon so decided at that moment to organise one. This journey has had a massive positive impact on my life as it helped channel any negative thoughts during my treatment and focus on something different.

This will be the third Yeovil Marathon, where did you draw your inspiration from and how has the event grown since the beginning?

As already stated, my drive for this is my own love for running but alongside the main race I wanted to incorporate an element of community. We have achieved this by gradually developing a village fete atmosphere to the event with stall holders and activities for children. When I have been to other running Events there is a big emphasis on the runners but there always seemed to be no consideration for supporting friends and family, so we make sure there are things for them to do whilst the runners are out on the course. We also hold a free children’s fun run to encourage them to take part and have a local radio station providing music. In both the first 2 years we had 280 people sign up and managed to raise £8500 so far. This has been shared between the RNRMC and our other chosen Charity the Yeovilton Military Wives Choir, part of the Military Wives Choir Foundation.

Why did you choose to support the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity?

I wanted to give something back to both the Charities that supported my family during my treatment for PTSD. Also, the RNRMC has given grants out to the RNRM Marathon team for our annual trip to Washington to compete against the US Marine Corp.

What advice would you give to someone training for a marathon?

There are lots of do’s and don’ts, but the main couple of things would be set a realistic goal, meaning that if you have never done a marathon before don’t set a target of 3hrs to complete, the average finish time for a marathon is 4hrs and is very respectable. For those that have completed a half marathon before set your target time of double your half time plus 10%. Another main pointer would be to gradually increase your weekly mileage by 10% at a time and stick to a training plan. My final bit of advice would be don’t panic with your training, everybody is different, don’t look at what a friend is doing and think you are not doing enough. There is no point in over-stretching yourself and not get to the Start Line because you are injured all because you thought you weren’t doing enough compared to someone else.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes! We still have spaces available, our entries close on the 1st June.

To sign up to the Yeovil marathon, click here

The deadline is 1 June!