REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Lesson for all from those making a run for it

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EAR TO HELP: Audiologist Peter Bartlett warming up for his 200-kilometre run to improve hearing health in Malawi. Picture: Kate Healy

EAR TO HELP: Audiologist Peter Bartlett warming up for his 200-kilometre run to improve hearing health in Malawi. Picture: Kate Healy

Audiologist Peter Bartlett's friend initially suggested he undertake his 200 kilometre run dressed up as a giant ear.

The idea did not exactly appeal to Barlett - consider the impracticalities, let alone the potential for chafing - for running twice as far as he had ever run before at the weekend.

To put into context, Bartlett was vying to run further than the distance of Ballarat to Horsham or, Sydney to Orange.

Bartlett instead opted to wear a pair of large ears on a headband to capture attention on his journey, ultimately running to raise money and awareness for building audiology programs and improve hearing health half a world away in Malawi.

He sets a standard, if not fashion, for what can be possible.

Ballarat has a world-class reputation for its running culture as home to one of Australia's most well-known runners, Olympic marathon man Steve Moneghetti. Tokyo-bound runners Ryan Gregson, who hails from Wollongong, Canberran Brett Robinson and Tasmanian Stewart McSweyn have made Ballarat a training base during their running careers.

One of the fundamentals to Ballarat's running culture is the support for runners of all levels, ability and goals.

Running for a cause is, of course, not unique to Ballaratians. But putting one foot in front of the other is a way anyone challenge themselves and make a difference.

There are those like Bartlett who publically set a tough goal. About two weeks ago in Canberra, Menslink education support officer Dave Parkes set out to run the equivalent of almost two marathons (or 77.2 kilometres) in two days. Parkes' primary goal was to be a good role model and raise awareness for mental health charity supporting young men.

Closer to Ballarat, former state league netballer Kelly Conroy is preparing to this week run a 100-mile event (160 kilometres) which is almost the equivalent of a proposed new power transmission project set to cut through western Victoria. Conroy is running for farmers, like her dad Angus, who are fighting against the environmental degradation and agricultural blow this will cause on properties from outside Melbourne to Stawell.

Stepping forward: Having overcome mental illness, Coby Watts will raise money for Lifeline during Sunday's Wollongong Half Marathon. Picture: Robert Peet

Stepping forward: Having overcome mental illness, Coby Watts will raise money for Lifeline during Sunday's Wollongong Half Marathon. Picture: Robert Peet

And there are those join the pack to channel their efforts and motivations in a mass participation event. Coby Watts has openly shared his mental health struggles with his strong social media following - and how running change the course of his life. Watts signed up to run last month's Wollongong Half Marathon with the event supporting crisis support hotline Lifeline.

Bartlett's big ears had residents across Ballarat in a flap all weekend and particularly by the iconic Lake Wendouree where he fought off dehydration and sheer exhaustion, lap by lap, to reach his 200-kilometre mark after almost two days' running.

Whenever things got hard, Bartlett would re-group and remind himself of the reason he was running. This is a definitely a lesson we can all listen to.

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