Completing seven marathons across a combination of seven states and territories in just seven days is a challenge even for a seasoned athlete, but for Curtin sports science student, Alexandra O’Brien, the aspiration to raise money for a charity close to her heart ensured she hit the ground running.
The marathon event, known as the ‘Bravehearts 777’ and established by not-for-profit organisation Bravehearts, comprises seven gruelling 42-kilometre marathons across seven states and territories, all completed within seven days. Its aim is two-fold; to raise money to protect children against child sexual assault, and to activate ‘children’s champions’ in the community to make a real difference to Australian children.
O’Brien’s love of sport and fitness sparked her interest in the Bravehearts 777, but it was the loss of her best friend Abbey at the age of 17 due to sexual assault that willed her to register. She formed the team, ‘Run for Abbey’, in honour of her childhood friend.
“Being part of such an amazing group of people was an incredible experience and something I will never forget. We encouraged each other and got each other through it,” says O’Brien.
Of the 60 competitors in the history of the event, O’Brien was the youngest ever participant, and soon became aware of the unique set of challenges to the event.
“It was extremely difficult to jump on a plane straight after completing a marathon and sometimes we had two planes to catch. There was also an extreme lack of sleep due to all this travel, we averaged around five hours a night,” she reveals.
$37,000 was raised by the ‘Run for Abbey’ team alone. All funds raised go towards a specific project called the ‘Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure’, an initiative delivered by Bravehearts educators to schools and childcare centres around Australia to educate children about their personal safety.
“What kept me going was the reason I was running. When I was struggling, I thought of all the children who have been abused and the pain they have suffered through. I only had to be in pain for a week, whereas they have to be in pain their whole lives,” O’Brien reflects.
“Finishing the event was the best moment of my life. I felt that everything I had worked towards had finally paid off and that I am helping Abbey leave her mark on the world.”
To find out more about Bravehearts initiatives or to make a donation, visit their website.