Sharon Sutherland during the Hobart run. Seven marathons in sevendays in sevenstates/territories –that was the daunting challenge facingSharon Sutherland.
However, Kiama resident MrsSutherland has recovered froma week filled with early wake-up calls, blisters, flights and halfmarathons –all for charity.
Mrs Sutherland completed anendurance running challenge in June/July to raise funds and awareness for national child protection advocateBravehearts.
She tackled half marathons, completing21km a day for sevenconsecutive days.
Bravehearts is an Australian charity which seeksto educate, empower and protect Australian kids from sexual assault.
Billed as “Australia’s biggest charity run to protect kids”, the Bravehearts 777 marathonchallengeincorporatesseven marathons in sevendays in sevenstates/territories.
CHALLENGE: Sharon Sutherland earlier this year, preparing for a gruelling physical challenge to raise funds for charity. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN
The challenge schedule began onJune 27 inPerth, eventually culminating at Australia’slargest marathonon the Gold CoastonJuly 3.
“As long as you raise the money, you can do half marathons, you can walk, do 10km, whatever you can on the day,” Mrs Sutherland said.
“There were 20 people running and as a team we raised over $315,000 for Bravehearts.
“This is Bravehearts’ biggest fundraiser.
“It does not receive a lot of government funding.This will help so many children who suffer child sexual abuse and survivors of this horrific act.
“Among other things we have raised enough for 13,000 counseling sessions for abused kids.”
Mrs Sutherland implementeda strict training regiment for the months leading up to the challenge.
This included three-time Uncle Toby’s Ironman series winnerGuy Andrewsprovidingencouragement and assistance with fitness, trainingand motivation.
Mrs Sutherland said each day of the challenge consisted of the same routine:up at 5am,5.30am breakfast and hotel checkout,6.15am leave hotel,7am start running,1pm back to hotel for showers,2.15pm off to airport,8pm land in next city and10pm bed.
“It was a tough, grueling week,” she said.
“What kept us all going was thinking of the kids who needed help and the funds and awareness we were raising.
“The blisters and sore feet were nothing compared to what some kids are going through.
“At each city we had people join us and tell us their stories.”
Mrs Sutherlandstarted running little more than twoyears ago at the age of 43.
Shecompleted fivehalf marathons, twoCity to Surf races, twoRun Wollongong races and twoother fun runs prior to taking on the Bravehearts challenge.
Mrs Sutherlandownsbusinesses in Unanderraand Campbelltown, andtrains with an outdoor training group in Kiama eachmorning.
After finishing the challenge. Picture: Supplied
Mrs Sutherland became aware ofBravehearts while reading a running magazine, andsaid her goal was“to do something different” for an important cause.
“When I started looking at the charity and the numbers, it’s like one in five kids are sexually abused in Australia,” she said.
“I’m considering doing the challenge again next year.
“It’s such a worthwhile cause, and it’s just the stories you hear along the way.”
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