(Back: Ian Harvey, Ian Richards, Dani McLaren, Adam Gilchrist, Simon Cheel, Belinda Murphy, Tammy Robinson, Linda McNab, Dave McNab. Front: Ben Robinson, Russell Odgers)
10 everyday champions from across Australia are today resting their fatigued bodies on the Gold Coast after an arduous week-long challenge that saw them run seven marathons in seven states to make a stand against child sexual assault.
Bravehearts 777 competitors Simon Cheel, Ian Harvey, Danielle McLaren, Dave McNab, Linda McNab, Ian Richards, Ben Robinson, Tammy Robinson, Russell Odgers and Belinda Murphy laid it all on the line to complete charity marathons in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Kingscliff and Gold Coast – some in temperatures below zero.
It was the first time many had attempted a marathon distance – let alone seven combined - but it was the thought of the Aussie kids enduring their own personal marathons that motivated them to persevere through the pain.
Gold Coast dad Ian Harvey fell to the ground after crossing the finish line in his home town in a personal best time. Ian never thought he’d be able to complete a marathon but he is now among a small group of people who can say they've done seven in as many days.
An emotional Ian Richards posted a video message
to his supporters via Facebook.
“The job is done – I went out today and ran comfortably, ran patiently and at the end I just gave it everything. It hurt so bad out there but I finished,” Ian said yesterday.
“So many people have been involved in this and I can’t thank them enough – my wife, my kids, people I know from work, friends, family, running clubs – you guys all stood together as one to help protect kids.
“That what this is about – people standing together and a whole community response to people who take the trust away from our children. We’ve got to keep talking about it and making it real. My kids deserve to be safe and so do yours.”
Queensland’s McKinlay Mayor Belinda Murphy, who formed a trio with Linda and Dave McNab, told ABC News
the challenge was “more than a physical quest”.
“I am definitely no super mum, I would be lying if I say it is easy – it is not easy,” she said. “I have an amazing husband and an amazing group of friends and support at home and that is really the only way through family that I have been able to do this.”
Cr Murphy said that the fact that one in five children are going to be sexually assaulted in some way by the time they are 18 is “something we should all find as completely unacceptable”.
“We need to fix this one way or another. The more I have got into this, the more I feel that our justice system fundamentally is failing to protect our kids,” she told ABC.
Dynamic husband and wife duo Tammy and Ben Robinson also took to Facebook to express their “relief” at finishing.
Just two marathons into the race Tammy lost a toe nail and was forced to cut a hole in her shoe, battling immense pain for the remaining five legs. Despite a few minor hiccups himself, Ben maintained impressive marathon times of around 03:30 throughout the week and jumped on a bicycle to encourage Tammy home each leg.”
Ironman legend and Bravehearts 777 mentor Guy Andrews says the 2015 competitors were courageous and inspirational throughout the week.
“Throughout the week I witness some accomplished and strong people dig deep and find out they have an endless well of courage and ability,” Andrews says.
“I respect a person that puts themselves in that place of vulnerability and self-discovery. Something only an event like this one can do.”
“They are physically and emotionally exhausted after putting their hearts and souls into running marathons every day this week but they ought to be incredible proud of what they’ve done, and for whom they’ve done it.”
Bravehearts Founder and CEO Hetty Johnston says the Bravehearts 777 has shown what a real difference passionate people can make in a community.
"Child protection is everybody's business and among the amazing people running the 777 is an outback Queensland mayor, a police officer, a teacher, mums and dads, husband and wives and Gold Coaster Ian Harvey – the son of local fundraising supremo Claude ‘the mowerman’ Harvey,” she says.
“These people have each had to each raise $10,000 in order to partake in the challenge, which means in the 12 months leading up to the race, on top of the training and physical commitment, they’ve also been out in their communities talking about the importance of child protection.
“We even had the PM Tony Abbott share a run with one of the runners, showing just how important it is that we do something about combatting this crime.
"We’re so grateful for the enduring effort and commitment these true ‘children’s champions’ have shown this week and in the months leading up to it to help generate funds to reach as many Aussie children as we can with our personal safety program 'Ditto's Keep Safe Adventure' and provide specialist counselling services for survivors."
Special thanks to Guy and Alana Andrews (Guy Andrews Adventure), Tri Travel and all the incredible volunteers including Rapid Response Team, who helped make this event possible.