A Sydney man has run the length of Central America (5874KM) in six months to raise awareness of depression and anxiety, and more than $27,000 for Beyond Blue.
Olly Woolrych, 27, from Avalon, began his journey in Mexico City in April and ran around 200KM a week until he reached Panama City on November 7. He returned to Australia on Saturday November 21.
In total, Olly ran through eight countries, including Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, pulling a cart loaded with his possessions and persisting through challenging mountain and coastal terrain.
He has raised more than $27,000 for Beyond Blue throughout his trip, and hopes to reach his goal of raising $50,000 by the end of year.
Olly said the run was incredibly challenging at times, but he was inspired by the support he received from locals he met along the way and his network back home, along with his eagerness to support Beyond Blue.
“Constantly pushing myself during this run showed me I’m capable of even more than I thought,” he said.
“I have been humbled by the kindness shown to me by people in the small, rural villages I have run through. I’m also grateful for the support from my friends and family back home, who have organised fundraising events.”
Olly is passionate about encouraging people to be proactive in maintaining their mental and physical health because he experienced depression and anxiety in his late teens and early twenties, and understands how difficult living with these conditions can be.
“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.“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.
“I feel strongly about Beyond Blue’s work raising awareness of depression and anxiety, and encouraging people to take action and talk to someone when they are struggling. This run, which I planned over a couple of years, seemed the most fitting way I could support this cause which means so much to me. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved for Beyond Blue.”
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said Beyond Blue is beyond 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 enjoys a well-earned rest, particularly when he is back in Australia.
“By sharing his experience of depression and anxiety, Olly is demonstrating that people can recover from and manage these conditions and lead contributing lives. However, it is important to take action to get help early before these conditions become debilitating.”
To donate to Beyond Blue through Olly’s journey or catch up on his adventures, visit Olly’s Facebook page or his Everyday Hero page.