Finding hope through fitness

From Half Marathons to HYROX Functional Fitness competitions, find out how Douglas found his new passions and why it may just inspire you to get physical too.

April 04, 2023

After receiving bereavement support following the death of his father, Douglas Whiteford was inspired to sign up to run the Edinburgh Half Marathon to help raise vital funds for Cruse Scotland.

Here Douglas tells us more about his challenge but also another passion he has found in ‘HYROX’ – a functional fitness competition that he believes many others may benefit from or wish to take part in as a potentially huge fundraising event of the future!

“I have been a nurse for more than 16 years which has always been physically and mentally demanding. I was always a keen runner and dabbled in the gym on and off for years, never really getting anywhere. In 2015 I was in a bad motorbike accident which left me with tendon and ligament damage in both knees. After this I kind of wrote myself off and didn’t really do any kind of physical activity after that.

In 2019 just before lockdown my brother encouraged me to go to the gym and start lifting weights, something I never thought I would be capable of, but found myself really enjoying it and I surprised myself with what I was able to do. I joined a ‘learn to lift’ class and met a personal trainer who encouraged me to pursue powerlifting.

After losing my dad a few years ago I was struggling to deal with it. Trying to put a brave face on it and just getting on with it while working in A&E led to burnout. A colleague suggested Cruse Scotland and I can't tell you how helpful it was. I found it really easy to talk to someone unconnected to me and impartial.

I also really threw myself into training and found it really helped my mental health. I ended up pushing myself and competing in powerlifting competitions and got a real passion for the sport. This led to me pursuing functional fitness and I found that I was capable of a lot more than I ever thought I could be.

I have now competed in several HYROX functional fitness competitions and I am now always looking for the next challenge. I first found out about it through friends at the gym I train at in Edinburgh. The HYROX race is the same all around the world and competitors are tested in every facet of athletic performance inside impressive indoor racecourses starting with a 1km run, followed by one functional fitness movement repeating eight times. 

The movements comprise of 1000m on the SkiErg, a 50m sled push, a 50m sled pull, 80m of burpee broad jumps, a 1000m row, a 200m farmers carry, 100m sandbag lunges, finished off with 100 wall balls!  The event I competed at was in Glasgow at the SEC and it was the first event held in Scotland. 

I would recommend HYROX as a good way for Cruse Scotland supporters to take on a different kind of challenge to raise funds through sponsorship. It is an internationally recognised event which attracts thousands of participants and - a great event for people to push themselves physically and mentally.

Following the recent birth of my son Noah, it has led me to push myself even further so that I can show him that no matter what happens, anything is possible if you push yourself and put the work in to achieve your goals. 

I’m nervous about running in such a big event as the Edinburgh Half Marathon in May, but I definitely feel physically capable of doing it.  I think it will be challenging on the day depending on the weather but overall, I’m really looking forward to the sense of achievement and completing the event.

What I would say to anyone struggling to cope with grief who haven’t yet reached out to Cruse Scotland is that you are not alone in how you feel, and that taking the first step of making contact and asking for help is probably the most difficult one, but it is worthwhile as the people on the end of the phone at Cruse Scotland are caring and compassionate and do what they can to help you process your grief.”


Thank you so much for all you continue to do to support and raise awareness of Cruse Scotland’s services Douglas!

Read more - visit Douglas’s JustGiving Page or if you are inspired to take on a challenge check out just some of the great events coming up this year!

Finding hope through fitness