Tuesday 18 June 2019

Louth man to climb Croagh Patrick on Christmas Day wearing just pair of shorts and boots for mental health charity

John McKeown from Collon ready for his Christmas Day Hike. Photo: Seamus Farrelly
John McKeown from Collon ready for his Christmas Day Hike. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

Louise Walsh

A Co. Louth man is preparing to climb Croagh Patrick on Christmas Day in aid of mental health - wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and boots.

With a cool 7 degrees forecast for December 25th, John McKeown from Collon will be facing an uphill battle to keep warm during the rocky Co. Mayo hike.

John has been a huge follower of Dutch 'iceman' Vim Hof for the last three years and believes that extreme cold temperatures aid relaxation and mental health wellbeing.

Vim Hof is well-known for his ability to withstand extreme cold due to breathing techniques.

As the number of young men taking their own lives increase, John is taking on the challenge in aid of mental health charities 3TS Turn the Tide on Suicide and A Lust for Life.

"In 2010 my wife was diagnosed with cancer and everyone knows that getting out in the fresh air is good for you but when I began researching about breathing, I came across Vim Hof and I was so intrigued that I signed up for a ten week course there and then.

"If you can control your breathing, you can keep your body warm.

"Studies have shown that taking cold showers and sea swimming are good for your mental health.  I have a cold shower every morning and an ice bath once a week and I have never felt better.

"If someone suffering from stress learns how to breathe in a different way, they can learn to relax and reduce their heartbeat by 10 to 15 beats."

 Croagh Patrick, wearing next to nothing is a challenge in itself but last year in Poland, John successfully undertook a five hour mountain climb, wearing only boots and shorts in freezing -8 degree temperatures.

On Christmas Day, he aims to start the climb, along with his three fully-clothed sons about 10am and be home that evening to enjoy Christmas dinner and all the trimmings.

"Mental health is a huge issue, especially in young men at the minute, and I just feel that this is something that I can do to help a little bit by raising funds and raising awareness to charities that can help”

Anyone who would like to donate can go to the Facebook page LovingOxygen or visit GoFundMe by clicking here.

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