Mental health is a marathon, a life-long endurance race – so it’s fitting that two women are running 14 marathons in 15 days across Tasmania to raise awareness of mental illness.
The Run4Mind team are Tasmanian-born Rachael Laycock and Melbournian Vanessa Heuser: they’re running 591 kilometres and fundraising a target of $30,000 for mental health organisation Wellways.
Starting on Monday in Devonport, the two women are joined by support driver Adrian Middleton. It’s a small team whittled down from seven by the very issues they are running to raise awareness about.
Ms Laycock said that losing part of their team was “all the more reason for us to make sure we got it done”.
Last year Ms Laycock and her sister Jennalea Laycock ran the length of New Zealand, raising more than $10,000 for mental health organisations.
“We’ve both suffered with depression and anxiety throughout our lives, and [Jennalea] was going through a really rough patch at that time,” she said.
When Jennalea suggested they run the length of New Zealand to raise awareness on mental health, her sister said ‘hell yeah’.
“[Running] is a really, really beautiful metaphor for depression,” Ms Laycock said.
“It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you just put one foot forward.
“I never really realised the metaphor until New Zealand – every single baby-step was so painful, but it was a step forward.”
“[Running] is a really, really beautiful metaphor for depression. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you just put one foot forward."Run4Mind team member Rachael Laycock
This year, Jenna can’t run, leaving Rachael and Ms Heuser to complete the challenge: like the Laycock sisters, Ms Heuser suffers from depression and anxiety.
“Part of this whole program, what we’re trying to achieve, is not only to raise money but also … to break down the barriers,” Ms Heuser said.
“If people were to meet me, I’m this vivacious, gregarious person that you would never in a million years thinks suffers these really dark days, and I do.”
Mr Middleton’s support as their driver will be key to the 15-day marathon’s success.
“I think everyone’s had some challenge with anxiety or depression in our lives,” he said.
The Run4Mind team are inviting runners to join them on their Launceston marathon this Wednesday, on the Cataract Gorge trails.
“People can join us for just a few kilometres or run the whole marathon, whatever they’d like,” Ms Laycock said.
Meet the team at the Basin Cafe at 7am, Wednesday, December 7. For more details and to donate, visit run4mind.com