PTSD run to go distance
SPORT and exercise science student Leigh Fordham will join local soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalion at next month’s Townsville Running Festival to raise funds and awareness for Soldier On.
It will be the first full marathon for the James Cook University student, who will race the entire 42km wearing a 10kg weight vest to symbolise the heavy burden carried by veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.
Mr Fordham became involved in the Soldier On Memorial Run after supporting his friend Corporal Brian Heilbronn, as he pioneered the armoured marathon idea at last year’s McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival.
“I trained with Brian leading up to last year’s marathon before he was injured and Cpl Cam Hardie, another member of Brian’s battalion, took his place,” Mr Fordham said.
“I was a support runner for Cam, so ran for the last 21km of the marathon with him, which is the furthest I’ve run before.
“Coming from outside the defence profession, I was really driven to raise funds for Soldier On in support of Brian – I know what he’s been through and hadn’t been aware of the huge impact of post- traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD) before. I think, as residents of a Garrison City, we should all be more aware of PTSD, how it can affect our soldiers, and the work of Soldier On.
“The furthest I’ve run with the weight vest so far is 7km, so still have a bit of work to go. Now that university exams are over, I’ll be able to start train-
Lydia Kellner ing more, and working fundraising as well.”
Cpl Brian Heilbronn, who is still in the process of rehabilitation after last year’s injury, said that it was great to see someone not affiliated with the military putting in so much effort for Soldier On.
“It’s great to see a good mate putting in the hard yards. Leigh has been supporting me since I began training for the 2014 marathon, so I feel really grateful that he’s now willing to run the entire marathon weighed down with the 10kg this year,” Cpl Heilbronn said.
“We’re still looking for a runner from 3RAR, but currently Leigh will be racing with Private Alex Rutledge of 1RAR and Corporal Richard Johnston of 2RAR, so it should be
on interesting; they will all provide a lot of motivation and welcome distraction for each other throughout the run.
“The plan is definitely for me to be fully recovered so I can be a part of the marathon at the Running Festival next year. The rehab is going well, and I’ve started running short distances again so it’s all looking good.”
The 17th Annual McDonald’s Townsville Running Festival will be held on Sunday, August 2, at Jezzine Barracks.
For more information and to register, visit townsvillerunningfestival. com.
To contribute to Leigh’s fundraising efforts, visit sold i e r o n . g i v e e a s y . o r g / c a m - p a i g n s / l e i g h - f o r d h a m - memorial- marathon/
BIG STRIDES: Leigh Fordham will be carrying an extra 10kg.