Twelve runs in 12 months for two mums
The thought of doing 12 marathons in 12 months would make even the most ardent athlete squirm, but to Kialla woman and Cobram Primary School staff member Narelle Pell, it was a challenge duly accepted.
The test of physical endurance and mental toughness was not some kind of bucket list idea born out of a whim, rather, it had a far greater purpose.
She and good friend and running partner of 15 years Kathy Fuller hatched a plan to run a marathon in each month of the year to raise funds for Goulburn Valley Centre Against Sexual Assault.
The keen athletes finished a year of running and fundraising on December 16, crossing the finish line at Emerald Bank in Shepparton.
After they had completed their final gruelling 42 km leg of the 12-month journey, it was announced they had raised $100 000 for GVCASA.
Ms Pell said it was not the first time she and Ms Fuller had done something of this magnitude to raise awareness.
‘‘In November 2015, I saw a triple seven advertised — seven marathons in seven days, in seven states — and it was raising awareness for child sexual abuse,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m a social worker, so that sort of struck a chord with me straight away, so I contacted Kath and told her to have a look at it and in 2016 we signed up to do it and I think we raised over $64 000 for Bravehearts.
‘‘Last year we were looking around to see what we could do next and this idea came up so we decided to partner with GVCASA and GV Health Foundation to do this.’’
The pair have run marathons in Hobart, Wangaratta, Albury, Heathcote, Adelaide, Traralgon, Gold Coast, Shepparton, Sydney, Melbourne, Queenstown, New Zealand, before finishing on home soil in Shepparton.
Having been inside the education system since 2002, Ms Pell said child sexual abuse was tragically a real problem she had encountered.
‘‘Our message is always about protecting kids, raising awareness and giving them a voice. Kids are vulnerable and as adults, our job is to protect them and I definitely think everyone can play a part in that,’’ she said.
‘‘We want every child to be able to have a voice and that can be found in educational programs to give them personal safety skills.’’
Ms Pell said while it was fantastic to raise such a huge total for local initiatives and children, simply getting the message out into the public sphere was just as rewarding.
‘‘The awareness part is just as important to us as the money we raised through the process. You can’t put a price on awareness. We never lost sight of why we were running,’’ she said.
Ms Pell said they could not have reached the enormous fundraising total without the support of the wider community.
‘‘We had tins around the local football netball clubs, and the community and businesses really got on board and in our last run which was sponsored, we had 42 businesses who all contributed significantly.’’
Ms Pell thanked Cobram Primary School for its ongoing support throughout the year.
‘‘Cobram primary has been a huge supporter. We did a fundraiser at the school earlier in the year, which involved a fun run and raised some money and obviously that awareness side will continue,’’ she said.
‘‘Also Paul McCallum, a teacher here, did the Melbourne Marathon with me and then did 14 km with me at Shepparton in the last run.
‘‘He’s been great and so has our principal Matt Knight, he’s always been a strong supporter of us and what we do.’’
Done and dusted: Shepparton marathon mums Kathy Fuller and Narelle Pell at the end of their 12th and final marathon for 2018.