Andy Almond only took up running at the age of 46, but in just a few short years he’s taking on the biggest challenge of his life – running for 18 hours in honour of a young man who lost his life at the start of this year.
Andy plans to run all through the night from 4pm on Saturday, December 9 until 10am on Sunday, December 10 to raise $10,000 for the Top Blokes Foundation to support their programs for vulnerable young men aged between 10 and 24.
A thirty dollar donation can help a boy open up with his peer support group, $50 funds a life-changing conversation with a Top Blokes mentor and $200 helps a boy complete a Top Blokes program and regain control of his life.
Hours of training
Andy says running from the darkness into the light is significant, because the hours between 10pm and 4am are when many young men feel at their most vulnerable.
“The fundraiser is also a symbolic journey for me,” Andy explains.
“I run a lot – I’ve run three marathons and one 50km ultra marathon, and often use my long runs to unpack my thoughts and process what is happening in life.
“But this will be by far my longest run and biggest challenge.”
The Moreton Bay Roadrunners member has been training in earnest since September, clocking an estimated 1000km, and burning through three pairs of running shoes.
Starting a conversation
Andy’s run is in memory of Luke, the son of a work colleague, who died aged 17.
“He was one of those lads who always had a smile and he looked like he was totally enthused with the world,” Andy says.
“He worked with me after he finished high school – he was super, super helpful and a lovely young lad.
“He’d just started an apprenticeship that he was looking forward to – (his death) knocked the stuffing out of me.”
Andy says he wanted to show support for Luke’s family, do something positive by raising money for the Top Blokes Foundation and to start a conservation about the importance of people looking after their mental health.
“Top Blokes run programs that focus on building sustainable skills – it’s a holistic package,” Andy explains.
“They’re sustainable life skills that are designed to improve a sense of wellbeing and reduce the risk of harmful or antisocial behaviour.
“I think that’s really important when you’re looking at young men – it’s got to be sustainable, not just a crutch for now.”
“There’s no way you can make it any better, but I wanted to do something positive.
“When I started, raising money was the important part, giving the gift of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I was convinced that raising as much money as possible was the most important thing, but it’s kind of morphed from raising money to raising a message of hope.
“Most humbling is the number of people messaging me to say how much the story has touched them.
“The message has become much more important than the outcome.
“There’s nothing wrong with processing things. We have all had dark moments, it’s how we process and recognise that. It’s one of the reasons I run.
“For every dollar we raise, it will help another family avoid this pain.”
On December 9 Andy will set up a base camp at Crockatt Park before running loops between the Woody Point and Shorncliffe jetties.
Each circuit covers 24km and Andy’s aiming to complete six to eight laps.
His support team will keep him topped up with protein and sports drinks and he will only take short rests, changing shoes and socks and applying creams to prevent his toes from chaffing.
“I know that I am stubborn enough and dedicated enough to keep going – I have got my ‘why’ – I am doing it for Luke.
“It doesn’t matter how much training you put your body through, it’s the mind that’s the athlete.”
How you can help
Andy says he had anticipated running solo through the darkness, but has been humbled by the number of people who’ve volunteered to be by his side when the going gets really tough.
“I just assumed I would be doing it alone, but I have offers from guys offering to run in the night with me.
“I’ll have company along the way and that’s been humbling. It’s changed the way I think about what this support means.
“That’s been a very, very powerful part of the process.”
Find out more and to donate to Luke’s Legacy, The Hours of Darkness Run here.
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