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Running Through The Pain Of Mental Health

By Marcus Braid on May 5, 2015 in News

Photo: Lauren Grey

Photo: Lauren Grey

United by a passion for addressing mental health issues and suicide prevention, a group of six friends came together with the idea to run a marathon after the death of a close friend.

The idea snowballed into what is now the annual PPP4SPA event, a 24-hour treadmill run that has raised over $150,000 for Suicide Prevention Australia over the last two years.

“The idea is to get everybody in the community together to start talking about it, because it’s such a taboo topic,” event organiser Ben Higgs said.

“The idea is that participants are exercising, so they’re getting across the importance of a healthy lifestyle and also having a fun outlook about it. We have a light-hearted approach to it, but push it in people’s faces at the same time.”

This year, PPP4SPA will be held at Randwick Racecourse on Friday, May 8 from 6pm until 6pm the following day, with treadmills in action the full 24 hours. A number of celebrities will be taking part in the running, including a large showing from the NRL.

“I don’t think you can go any bigger than Greg Inglis,” Mr Higgs said. “Greg Inglis and John Sutton were the first two to put their hands up.

“We’ve put a focus on the Indigenous community this year, because Indigenous Australians have the highest suicide rate in the world, so Greg Inglis just ticks every box.

“All of the local guys like Jason Clark, Boyd Cordner and Aidan Guerra will be on board again too. The NRL is one of our biggest sponsors and they fill a treadmill for the entire 24 hours.”

The event isn’t about who can run the furthest, but encouraging each other to push through the pain, which is what needs to be done when friends face the battle of mental illness. While PPP4SPA aims to raise as much money as possible, the focus is more about addressing the issue of mental health.

“Raising money is great and it serves a purpose, but the money is just a bonus,” Mr Higgs said. “If one person leaves this event and rings their mate up and says, ‘Hey I’m struggling, help me,’ it’s a win.

“We’ve always aimed it at getting everyone down there and making it open to everyone.

“The majority of people are there in 15-minute time slots. Some people are fitter than others and have booked themselves in for half an hour. Last year we had a girl who did three hours straight.”

Kid Mac will be performing at the event on the Friday night and local music will kick off at around 12pm on the Saturday.

“There’s plenty for the kids on the Saturday too,” Mr Higgs said. “We’ve got a jumping castle and the NRL is doing a little boot camp for kids. The home straight at the racecourse is going to be filled with market stalls and local businesses can come and put up their stall and sell their wares.”

To participate in the event, help in its organisation on the day or become a sponsor, call Mr Higgs on 0401610724 or email ppp@suicidepreventionaust.org.

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