PTSD run to go dis­tance

Townsville Bulletin - - LIFESTYLE -

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.

4722 4451

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