AN 18-year-old Melbourne man will pass through the Shoalhaven later this month on a marathon journey to Sydney raising money for beyondblue.
While other school-leavers were relaxing, working or preparing for further education, Alex Cooke was starting his 1060km journey from Melbourne to Sydney.
He started at Federation Square on New Year’s Day and is expected to complete his trek at the Sydney Opera House on Australia Day.
Running and walking an average 42km a day, the teenager is raising money and awareness for depression and anxiety.
He is due to arrive in the southern Shoalhaven on Sunday, January 19 at Burrill Lake at Ulladulla.
The following day he will journey to St Georges Basin and on January 21 he will run through Nowra on his way to Berry.
On January 22 he will leave Berry travelling to Shell Cove.
Alex said he has seen a number of his friends affected by depression and anxiety, either because they have experienced these conditions personally or one of their family members has, and he wanted to help beyondblue continue supporting people in this position.
“It’s been heartbreaking to see some of the best people I know struggle with depression,” he said.
“I feel very strongly about the work of beyondblue in helping people seek treatment and take back control of their lives.”
When the Register contacted Alex he was “travelling pretty well” and was in a forested area between Orbost and Lakes Entrance, where he will join the Princes Highway and start his trek north.
He aims to cover around 42 kilometres a day but his longest day on the road so far has seen him cover 52km.
Usually walking on his own, he says the response from motorists has been encouraging.
“It’s been good, I’ve been getting lots of thumbs-ups from passing drivers,” he said.
He hits the road between 6am and 7am each day, eats while walking before usually breaking for lunch around midday.
He then continues his trek, completing his day’s journey by late afternoon.
“After school I just wanted to do something to help people,” he said.
“I figured this was good way – people can donate to the cause, while at the same time I’m raising the awareness of depression and anxiety and the important role beyondblue plays.
He has been training for his adventure since October, spending many hours running the foreshore near his home in Port Melbourne.
“I haven’t always been fit. Half of the point of this is this is something I’m pushing myself to do,” he said.
He hopes his expedition will help him raise $15,000 for beyondblue.
“It’s been amazing how quickly people have jumped in to support me and beyondblue, and it would be great to reach the target,” he said.
Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said she was thankful to Alex for going to such lengths to support the important work of the organisation.
“It’s inspiring to see a young man willing to pound the pavement for a month to improve the lives of people experiencing depression and anxiety,” she said.
For more information or to donate to beyondblue, visit give.everydayhero.com/au/alex-cooke-australia-day-melbourne-to-sydney-hypermarathon-2014.