Running through the jungles of Costa Rica

by Central Magazine

Maia Mountain and her father Joe are setting off on an ultramarathon through the Central American country to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity “Mind”.

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“My dad has always been a big runner, he’s played a big part in my life with that, he’s run a lot of ultramarathons in the past”, said Maia. “I, on the other hand, haven’t.”

During lockdown, a time when everyone had to stay confined and restricted, the mental health of many was affected, and 20-year-old Maia was among those who faced those struggles. “My dad suggested that I go on a run with him so that I could keep up some kind of activity. So, it started from there”, Maia told The Portugal News.

“I think increasingly, I’ve seen it with my daughter, her friends, the wider community, there’s many more young people coming out of their teens struggling with depression, maybe more since Covid, and there’s not enough help and support for those struggling with mental health”, said Joe Mountain.

This duo aims to make people aware that it’s okay to feel the way they do and that there are places that can help.

The journey to recovery

Maia shared her experience with the Mind charity. “I’ve had some struggles with depression and anxiety, this is a charity that helped me out, mostly by giving me information about what I was feeling and different outlets and locations I could go to, to talk about it.”

“The main thing that helped me was verbalising, the emotions and the feelings that I was feeling in the moment and vocalising them to the people around me. It’s very easy to feel isolated at times, feel as if nobody cares and nobody would be there for you when with a clearer mind you’d see that quite often, there are a lot of people out there rooting for you and who are on your side. It’s hard sometimes for others to tell if you’re struggling”, she explained.

“If I could’ve changed one thing, it would’ve been to be more open and honest about the experiences I was facing sooner, and actively try to.”

She also mentioned how the sport aided in her recovery, “something about running strips down everything and makes you appreciate”, adding that it can be very difficult, “but at some point, you get into a rhythm and you get the runner’s high, the sensation of your feet moving and feeling your breathing, you just cherish being outside and seeing the nature”.

Credits: Supplied Image;

Running together

About a year ago, Maia and Joe decided to commit to a challenge, and see if they could make it happen, settling on the Costa Rica marathon. “It’s one he hasn’t done before, the aspect of being in the jungle, and being on sand as well, it just seems so unique, unlike anything either of us had done before”, she noted.

While training for the marathon, Maia has also gotten to spend more time with her father, expressing gratitude for “being able to take as many hours of the day out, we spend about 3 hours running each day at the moment. Just being able to be together, we don’t necessarily have to speak to each other, we’re just side by side and running”.

“I think it’s a great challenge for us to be doing together because we can both support each other. It should be good fun”, Joe assured.

The ultramarathon is called The Costa Rica Coastal Challenge, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, taking runners through 230km of beach, mountains, and jungle.

“This is on really, really difficult terrain, it’s in the jungle, we’ll be climbing up steep hills, through rivers, across boulders, and in the sand”, described Joe.

With this challenge, the father-daughter duo is raising money for the Mind charity, based in the UK, which offers mental health resources to those seeking help.

“It’s a charity that’s stayed in my mind and that I’ve worked with a bit before, I used the resources it had to understand my struggles better”, Maia recalled.

“We would like to encourage anyone who isn’t feeling particularly good to go out for a run, we know it would make them feel better about life”, hopes Joe. “That would be an achievement, if people are motivated to give it a go.”

“If this can impact other people, and perhaps inspire them to even just go for a walk, go outside, I’d feel proud”, Maia concluded.

To support Maia Mountain, Joe and their mission to raise money for the Mind charity, please visit: Maia Mountain is fundraising for Mind (

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