BONNELLS Bay runner Mitch Morley will endure the Vintage Winery Marathon on Sunday as part of his quest to run 42.2km in every state and territory in Australia.
Aiming to raise awareness for mental health issues, Morley has already completed marathons in Canberra, Perth, Gold Coast, and at the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. The 23-year-old personal trainer has raised $3000 so far for beyondblue and says his motivation was to help change the stigma around suicide and depression.
“Whenever someone is feeling down, they shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their friends,” he said.
“That’s all I’m hoping to get out of all these marathons, is that you shouldn’t be afraid to have a problem and you shouldn’t be afraid to talk to people.”
Morley isn’t strange to adventures goals or difficult times, and in 2015, while part of a climbing group heading to Everest Base Camp for a special ANZAC Day dawn service, he saw the full extent of the disastrous earthquakes that rocked Nepal and forced the group to be evacuated.
“When the earthquake hit and close to 9000 people died, I returned home with a bit of PTSD [Post-traumatic stress disorder],” he said.
“So I just want to make sure what I’m doing in my life, can hopefully change somebody else’s life.”
He will head to Uluru to tick off the Northern Territory next, before taking off to Kangaroo Island in August and Hobart later in the year.
The Winery Running Festival, which is headlined by the Winery Marathon, will see the Hunter Valley host over 1500 runners on a course that winds through the Pokolbin wine region.
It will be a frosty start for the marathon runners with temperatures expected to be close to zero when they begin the day at 6:30am in front of The Vintage Golf Resort clubhouse.
For what will be his “home” marathon, Morley said he is looking forward to being able to race with local athletes and run on a course that differs form a more traditional road-based event.
“Gold Coast was a nice flat course, it’s supposed to be one of the quickest in Australia so I’m not expecting a PB [personal best] out of the Hunter Valley,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll see a few familiar faces out there and get to see the local country side.”
Event Director Paul Humphreys said over 40 per cent of runners will come from Sydney and changes to the course from previous years will bring a fresh challenge for competitors.
“Last year we didn’t have that many, but with the good weather we’re hoping to go close to 2000 runners,” Humphreys said.
“We’re now in our 12th year and as a regional running event it’s one of the best around.
“The course couldn’t go through a more scenic or picturesque location.”
The event offers a full 42.2km marathon, half-marathon, 10km, 5km, kid’s event and late registrations can be made right up until Sunday morning.
Those short on motivation should look towards what originally prompted Morley to take up the nation-wide challenge.
“I was watching the news one day and they were interviewing a guy from America who was running a marathon in every state in the US and I thought it would be pretty cool to do something like that in Australia and raise funds for a special cause,” he said.
“I just wanted to push myself outside my comfort zone and do something I haven’t done before.”