Runner Mark Avery with the head of Gotcha4Life. Mark will run through Grafton as part of 20 marathons in 20 days run down east coast of NSW.
Runner Mark Avery with the head of Gotcha4Life. Mark will run through Grafton as part of 20 marathons in 20 days run down east coast of NSW.

Marathon journey to visit the jacaranda city

THE lure of our jacaranda trees is often hard to resist for many people travelling the highway.

For Mark Avery, who will begin his journey from the border on October 26, it will be a different kind of relief than what he’ll be used to.

Mr Avery is making the journey by running 20 marathons in 20 days to raise money for Gotcha4Life, and has changed his previous route down the highway to include the jacaranda lined streets.

Less than 2 weeks to go! If you fancy a joining and helping to put mental health workshops in schools and clubs now is the time. See you (virtually) at the start line. 😁 #keeptheconversationrunning

Posted by Mark Avery on Tuesday, 13 October 2020

“It seems our Jacaranda trees are so enticing that Mark has changed his previous route to not miss out on our annual blooming event,” Clarence Valley Council marketing and brand officer Lou Gumb said.

“Mark will now be running from Maclean to Grafton on October 31st and from Grafton to Coffs Harbour on the 1st. We can’t think of a better place to rest his legs than in the Jacaranda City – Grafton.”

Mr Avery was driven to the long journey after the death of a close friend led him to mental health issues, and a battle with drinking.

“I had lost a friend but I was trying to be strong. What I thought was strong anyway, “Mr Avery said.

“I was having panic attacks at work - something that I’d never experienced before. I had to keep pretending I had a phone call to excuse myself from meetings to go outside to be able to breathe. And I was drinking...... I was drinking a lot to try to cope and numb the pain. Which of course, made it all worse.”

Finally, Mr Avery sought the help of a doctor, a move he said gave him a release of the tension that had been building up.

He decided, after years of planning to enter a marathon, he’d start training and do it.

After encouragement from his daughter, he entered, trained and completed his first marathon.

Then the training went from marathons to 50km, then to 100km, and previously running 20 half-marathons in 20 days.

This year, Mr Avery is extending himself to the full marathon for 20 days, clocking in at almost 1000km, and he said it is about leaving a legacy he and his children could be proud of, but also helping those struggling with mental health issues without a voice to share.

“I’m doing this in partnership with Gotcha4Life to raise awareness around mental health, and to encourage others to speak up and to take action to be mentally healthy,” he said.

“You don’t really know what people are thinking and going through behind the mask they wear out in public or what they put on social media. It’s okay to take that mask off and talk.”

To help support the cause, Mr Avery has set up a virtual event, where individuals or teams of people can sign up and attempt to run as a team the same distance as Mr Avery.

Entry is $35 which gets donated directly to the cause, which is aiming for $20,000 to help Gotcha4Life provide workshops in schools and clubs to build the mental fitness of communities in Australia.

For more information, visit www.run4mentalfitness.com



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