EDUCATOR, ATHLETE, DESCENDANT OF WORLD WAR VETERANS - WHO AM I?
I am a 65 year old retired school principal who has a passion for running. My father was a World War 2 veteran and my grandfather served in World War 1 which is why Soldier On is my chosen charity to support.
FROM ONE BLOCK TO AN ULTRA-MARATHON
My running journey began in 1997 when my weight ballooned to 105kg. With my physical, mental health and well-being in decline, I made the decision to do something about my situation. I took my first steps as a runner and since then have turned what was primarily a health and fitness goal into thousands of kilometres for a sport that has become an intrinsic part of my daily life.
Since those small, tentative steps, my running journey has taken me through different distances from 5km through to one of the world's most challenging marathons - The Great Wall. There was also the sobering and life-saving 142km trek across the Kokoda Trail in 2016. My father served in New Guinea during World War 2 where courage and endurance sat alongside mateship and sacrifice. He was the main reason why I trekked Kokoda, honouring his service and sacrifice and to pay tribute to the service personnel who fought in the jungle hell of the Owen Stanley Range to protect our borders.
It was during one of these events that I 'discovered' Soldier On and its very worthy aim of helping build resilient individuals capable of developing and expanding meaningful connections with family, community and employers. I now support Soldier On whenever I can by choosing them as my preferred charity. I have now committed physically, mentally and financially to do something in a practical way.
MARATHON DES SABLES
I will be challenged to complete the 2020 Marathon des Sables or Marathon of the Sands. This 250km self-sufficient, multi-stage footrace will be held from 5 April-12 April in part of the Sahara Desert in Southern Morocco. Not only will this be a personal challenge but it will be a test of strength of mind and body, of grit, will and determination. In addition, the Marathon des Sables will provide me with the opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges that confront our returned service personnel. The longest journey many of our service personnel face is not the journey home from distant fields of engagement but rather the struggle they face upon returning. I will be challenged running and walking the Marathon des Sables for one week; these wounded Australians will be challenged for much longer - years or for the rest of their lives.
This is where I'm asking you to be grateful for your health and the beautiful country we have the blessing to call home and give thanks to our service personnel who may not be in such a good place and donate any amount you can to Soldier On. It will go some small way in providing some hope, support and a better future for the men and women who have served our country and for them to know that Australians do care.
The Marathon des Sables may be personally challenging but it won't be as challenging as the tasks often given to our service men and women. This is exactly how I am feeling and I am seeking your love, support and generosity to help me complete the challenge for myself and those service personnel who need it most.
Updates about this challenge will be posted on my Facebook Page, Instep54 or I can be found on Facebook at @instep54.