Marathon year

Twelve runs in 12 months for two mums

The Cobram Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­trick Tansey

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.

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