A SYDNEY man is running the length of Central America (5500KM) over six months, to raise awareness of depression and anxiety and funds for beyondblue.
Olly Woolrych, 27, from Avalon, began his journey in Mexico City in mid-April and has already run more than 2400KM across Mexico and Belize, including challenging mountain and coastal terrain.
He will continue to run around 200KM a week, alone and pulling a cart containing his possessions, until he reaches his final destination in Panama City in October.
Olly has so far raised more than $11,000 for beyondblue, and hopes to raise $50,000 by the time he finishes.
He is passionate about encouraging people to be proactive in maintaining their mental and physical health, as he experienced depression and anxiety in his late teens and early twenties, and understands how difficult struggling with these conditions can be.
“Just after high school, I began experiencing depression and anxiety and it was a really challenging time. My self-esteem dropped dramatically and I felt like a totally different guy. Also, I wasn’t looking after my body very well and was drinking more, which didn’t help,” he said.
“Thankfully, when I was 23 I began sharing what I was experiencing with my family and seeking support, and was able to start the long road to recovery. At this time I started running, which became a massive part of my recovery. I couldn’t go far at first, but gradually I ran longer and longer distances, until a few years later, I was competing in 100KM Ultra Marathons.
“I feel strongly about beyondblue’s work raising awareness of depression and anxiety, and encouraging people to take action when they are struggling. This run, which I’ve been planning for a couple of years, seemed the most fitting way I could support this cause which means so much to me.”
Olly said the greatest challenge so far has been running in the heat, but he has been inspired by the support he has received from the locals he has met along the way and his friends and family back home.
“I have been humbled by the kindness shown to me by people in the small, rural villages in Mexico I have run through. One community even organised a barbecue and fireworks to mark my visit. I’m also grateful for the support from my friends and family back home, who have organised fundraising events,” he said.
“I’m so proud to be supporting beyondblue. I look forward to continuing to push myself over the next few months, as I run through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.”
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said beyondblue is very grateful to Olly for going to such extraordinary lengths to help people with depression and anxiety and their families.
“For most of us, completing one endurance event in a year, such a marathon, would be a major accomplishment. To run a distance equivalent to more than 100 marathons, within six months, is nothing short of incredible,” she said.
“We would like to thank Olly for his support and hope he has a safe and enjoyable adventure.
“By sharing his experience of depression and anxiety, Olly is demonstrating that people can recover from these conditions and lead very productive lives. However, it is important to take action to
get treatment early before these conditions become debilitating.”
To donate to beyondblue through Olly’s journey or to follow his progress, visit Olly’s website Running From the Blues, his Facebook page or his Everyday Hero page.
To arrange an interview with Olly, please call Marnie Banger on (03) 9818 9219 or 0431 228 243.