A very cold Melbourne is today playing host to the third stage of the gruelling charity run for child protection, the Bravehearts 777 - 7 marathons in 7 states in 7 days.
Having already endured marathons in Perth and Adelaide this week, the runners including four Victorians are fighting fatigued bodies to run a 42-kilometre circuit around Albert Park Lake in temperatures of around 6 degrees.
Among them is Essendon father-of-three Simon Cheel, who recently had the privilege of sharing a morning run with PM Tony Abbott, Werribee teacher and mother Danielle McLaren and Point Cook dynamic duo Tammy and Ben Robinson.
Joining them in Melbourne today is a fantastic support crew of more than 50 people, which includes Tammy and Ben's supporters who are barbecuing to raise funds throughout the run.
Ironman legend and race mentor Guy Andrews says runners are already feeling the brunt of the arduous challenge two marathons into the seven-marathon challenge.
"We've had runners losing toenails and nursing injured knees, but they're all remaining strong sticking together and supporting each other," he says.
"The support crew is out here in numbers today and they've really come at a timely stage in the race, with competitors thriving off the encouragement to complete each run.
"Melbourne is a fairy flat circuit and with a cooler temperature today it's near ideal conditions for running."
Ian Richards and Ben Robinson continue to lead the pack, having completed both marathons under four hours.
Competitors have been indulging in vegemite and peanut butter sandwiches, bananas and glucose gels to maintain stamina throughout each stage.
Hobart, Canberra, Kingscliff and Gold Coast will be the next stops for the event, which aims to raise funds and awareness for national child protection advocate Bravehearts to educate and protect Aussie kids.
Bravehearts Founder and CEO Hetty Johnston says the event brings people together who are passionate about making a real difference in the community.
"Child protection is everybody's business and among the amazing people running in the 777 will be mums and dads, an outback Queensland mayor, a police officer, a teacher and survivors," she says.
"This incredible challenge is generating funds to help those vulnerable children who are enduring their own personal marathons. We want to reach as many kids as we can with our personal safety program 'Ditto's Keep Safe Adventure' and provide specialist counselling services for survivors."
Competitors in the Bravehearts 777 (pictured below) include: Simon Cheel (VIC); Ian Harvey (QLD); Danielle McLaren (VIC); Dave McNab (QLD); Linda McNab (QLD); Ian Richards (NSW); Ben Robinson (VIC); Tammy Robinson (VIC); Russell Odgers (NSW) and Belinda Murphy (QLD).
More than 50 individual marathon competitors will join the 777 big guns across each event.
(L-R top: Danielle McLaren, Russel Odgers, Dave McNab, Linda McNab, Belinda Murphy. L-R bottom: Simon Cheel, Ian harvey, Ian Richards, Ben Robinson, Tammy Robinson).