ROXBURGH Park coach Michael Farrelly doesn’t like doing things by halves.
This time he’ll be leading a group of four as they run from the lowest point in Victoria to the highest point in Australia.
Having been behind the successful idea to hold a league wide charity match earlier this year for those affected by the bushfires, Farrelly is this time looking to raise money for Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute.
‘Run 4 Mates - A Run For Mental Health’ will see Farrelly, along with his brother Hayden, Magpies teammate Jack Elliott and friend Paul Johnson run 413 kilometres, starting at the Hazelwood Coalmine, near Morwell, before finishing at the top of Mount Kosciuszko in November.
Michael Farrelly said mental health was something that was close to his heart and he wanted to help raise money and get the conversation going.
“I texted my mate Brayden Shaw (former Collingwood listed player),” he said.
“My exact words were, ‘you know how I come up with these stupid ideas’ and he wrote back ‘yep’, and I said ‘I think I’ve got another one’.
“I got the idea from watching about Terry Fox.
“He was a 21-year-old and a bit of a cliche story. He got a lump in his knee… ne went and got a scan done and it turned out he had cancer in his knee and they cut his leg off from the knee down.
“He decided to run on foot from the east coast of Canada to the west coast of Canada.”
While Fox ultimately didn’t finish his run due to his cancer spreading and passing away, he still raised plenty of money and since then there has been regular Terry Fox runs to raise money for cancer charities.
Farrelly said the story just stuck with him and gave him the inspiration to hit the road.
“I was watching it at midnight and I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking about a few things and thought it would be pretty cool to do an epic run like that,” he said.
“The nearest dearest thing to me was mental health as I’ve gone through some stuff in the past, as has my brother and some of my best mates.
“I thought it would be cool to do a run about mental health and getting from the lowest point (in Victoria) to the highest point in Australia.”
In just over a week, the group has already raised more than $11,500 with many people including current and past AFL players getting behind it.
Three of the four have previously climbed Mount Kosciuszko together and were always keen to return.
Shaw had originally been part of the group, but due to other commitments, couldn’t commit.
Farrelly said they had started training for the run. Each runner will do at least 105 kilometres.
“We’ve knuckled out where we will stop and how many kilometres we will do each day and a running plan together and all those sorts of things,” Farrelly said.
“We have a quarter each to run which is our minimum and then you can do whatever else you can.
“Personally, I want to run as much and as often as possible and try and get up to near 200 kilometres which would be pretty good.”
The group is also hoping to get as many people as possible involved in the climb up Mount Kosciuszko on the final day.
Moonee Valley coach Shanon Carroll has indicated he and a couple of his players would be involved, along with some of Farrelly’s Roxburgh Park teammates.
Farrelly said in the short period of time since they announced the run, they had already seen that it was starting conversations within the community
“I got a phone call the other night from someone who was fighting back tears,” he said.
“Someone I know well. They gave us a really generous donation and when I rang them to say thank you, he opened up why he donated so much.
“Barney (Jack Elliott) got a message last night from one of our own players, saying he was really inspired by what he has been doing and he’s started a go fund me page, to shave his head.
“The best part of that was, Barney said he didn’t even know he was going through some stuff, which I guess is the whole reason we are doing it.
“The part I’ll be pushing out is when I went through some stuff, I only had a couple of people who recognised it.
“On this run, we’ll speak to community groups and different football clubs, just about being a good mate.
“I want to talk about not just asking are you OK, it’s an easy question. My mates should have said to me, are you OK as you would have normally come out with us, you would normally be chirpy, normally the laughing one of the bunch.
“It makes the conversation easier to get into.”
To donate to Run 4 Mates, go to gofundme.com/f/run-4-mates.