VISUAL arts teacher Chris Barnes is strong of mind – so when he decided to run 60 kilometres around and around Nambucca Heads High School on Wednesday, no one would back against him.
As part of a Move for Movember fundraiser for men’s health, Chris set sail at 6am and ran, jogged and shuffled before finally reaching the mark at 3.43pm. He would have finished earlier had not principal Simon McKinney called a pause as lightning and hail whipped through town.
Even for a fledgling ultra-marathoner – the challenge was unique for Chris as it involved doing a one kilometre circuit at the school … 60 freakin’ times.
“It was harder than I thought it would be,” Chris conceded, “because unlike a trail run we’re you’re just one of many – this was just me, and it was so public.”
The thought that he might come up short gnawed at the mind, but he was buoyed by the encouragement of students and fellow staff, some of whom did a few laps to keep him company.
“Physical strength can only take you so far, but it all goes south if mentally you’re not right on the day,” Chris told the Guardian.
Watch Chris determinedly plugging away near the end:
While the challenge was a first, Chris has some experience at crazy distance running – two years ago he completed an inaugural 50km trail, and this year, ticked off a 100km journey.
Wednesday’s foot-slog at Nambucca Heads was an endeavour of understanding as much as it was an exam of endurance.
“I’ve been involved in Movember before, but this year I just thought I could put my own spin on it,” the 44-year-old said.
“When I was running I was just thinking about why I was doing it – and that the challenge was nothing like the pain felt by those with testicular or prostate cancer.
“When I last checked my online page something like $1300 had been raised, but it’s also about raising awareness.
“People close to me have been affected by depression. So it’s important I believe for people to just start talking about it, and seeking help.
“As a teacher of high school boys – and girls – you need to set those examples and encourage people to reach out.”
Chris said the adage of young men being told to ‘suck it up’ – “an Australian construction of manhood” – could lead to devastating consequence.
And the reason for the distance of 60km? “It was in recognition of the 60 men who commit suicide every hour throughout the world,” he explained.
If you would like to donate to Chris’ fundraiser, visit https://au.movember.com/mospace/ or search for chrisbarnes8 on the Movember website.
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