(~2.5 minute read.)
Using his passion for fitness, Marini Milonas found a way to give back to a cause close to his heart – mental health and Beyond Blue. He started Marini’s FebFit Challenge in 2019 when he did his first campaign to raise money and awareness for Beyond Blue. Back then he trained twice a day every day for a month and raised approximately $5,000. He bought his FebFit Challenge back for 2021 and his campaign this year was to run 60km. He raised $2,200 to again support mental health and Beyond Blue. Running 60km is not only a physical challenge but also a mental challenge.
Here’s Marini’s story in his own words….
I woke up early, 3:30am … by most accounts that’s an early start. I wanted to be running by 4am to get as many kms under me by the time the sun rose … I’d never run 60kms before and today was the day. All my anxiety and efforts were about to be put to the test. I’d raised some $2,200 for Beyond Blue – sponsors who had so generously decided to support me and contribute to this very worthwhile cause.
I didn’t consider myself a runner, in fact in my younger years when I was competing I’d run to help keep my weight down and I hated it. I found it boring. The repetition … “who in their right mind finds any joy in doing this,” I’d say to myself.
However, in more recent years I’d started to appreciate the aloneness that comes from running. It’s an escape. Almost a meditative state.
Lockdown last year took a significant toll on my mental well-being; like many other Australians, especially Melbournians … Being forced to stay home was not what we are used to. We are a nation that has built its culture on the corner stone of freedom and civil liberties … and we’d lost those two fundamental elements of our identity … I ran a lot during lockdown; I found running to be a great outlet as it helped my mental health.
The run went mostly to plan. I was on the road by 4:00am armed with my CamelBak, fully loaded with hydration and energy gels. I was tracking well. I had run along Gardeners Creek, down to Southbank and Port Melbourne beach, and now was heading to Brighton … the sun was nowhere to be seen.
I made it to the Elwood Baths where I needed to refuel. I was making good time, averaging 6:45m/km.
42kms and I still had a spring in my step. Wow, was this going to be that easy? Surely not …
Before I knew it I was at 50kms. I’d just received a call from a friend and I was telling him how good I was feeling.
I found running to be a great outlet as it helped my mental health.
But then things took a turn. It was like someone had flicked a switch and turned off all my energy reserves. I went from running a steady 6:45min/km to well over 8:30min/km. Bottoming out at 10:17min/km at the 57km mark. “You’ve done enough … you can stop. Walk the rest. It doesn’t matter anyway. You’ve already raised money and awareness.” These voices kept talking in my head. I had another call from my friend … he reflected after the run “you were making no sense,” he said to me, “you were incoherent”.
I eventually could see The Tan and beyond that the steps to the Shrine. The end was in sight. Seeing the finish line gave me one last burst of energy. One more call from a friendly encouraging voice and I was now at the steps of the Shrine. I was going to do this. I am doing this. I did this.
I was going to do this. I am doing this. I did this.
When I asked, “Why 60 kms?,” Marini responded, “I wanted it to be a step up from marathon distance to make it harder on myself and to also generate more conversation amongst my network – therefore maximising my fund raising capability.” He wanted to raise awareness of mental health because
“3,000,000 Aussies live with anxiety or depression.”
The strengths that are associated with the virtue of courage include authenticity, perseverance, bravery and zest … Marini has all of these in bucketloads. He is a great exemplar of #courageiscontagious.