What is Mental?
Mental is a 9,000km self supported triathlon from Australia’s Westernmost to Easternmost point. If successful the trip will set a World Record for the longest triathlon ever completed.
(Yes the trip is now 9,000km not the 8,000km I originally announced it as.. I'll explain that soon..)
Where did the idea come from?
As a whole, Mental is a continuation of my goal of Advocacy through Adventure. For five years now I’ve had a career of some sort as an ‘Adventurer’, I enjoy the reward of pushing myself as far as I can and seeing what I can do. Through my journeys I try to take the publicity I get and use it to raise awareness and funds for causes I think deserve recognition for their incredible work.
Mental is the next step for me. It’s my biggest trip so far and I hope it has the biggest impact too.
More specifically, the idea for Mental came from my last trip; an attempt to complete a triathlon from the northernmost to southernmost point of the Australian mainland. Unfortunately I faulted during the final leg (swim leg) due to unsafe conditions on the Gippsland Lakes. As a result, even though I made it to Wilsons Prom (the southern most point) by supplementing my swim leg for a kayak leg, at the end of the journey I was left with the ambition to complete “Australia’s Longest Triathlon” which I had originally hoped to do. Having already travelled north to south, it seemed logical (or perhaps just poetic) to attempt to go from west to east to realise that original goal.
Of the 9,000km how far will you ride, run and swim?
I’ll start with a 7,000km ride from Steep Point, WA to Yarrawonga, VIC. I’ll follow mainly the southern coastline, cross the Nullabor and do a bit of a Zig-Zag through Victoria. All up the cycle is about twice as long as a normal Tour De France (though not as hilly).
I’ll then swim 280km from Yarrawonga, to Echuca, VIC. The swim will follow the Murray River and is around nine times the length of an English Channel crossing.
After arriving in Echuca I’ll run across to Wollongong before heading up the eastern coast to get to Byron Bay, NSW. The run leg is 1,700km and I’ll hope to complete close to a marathon a day for around 40 days to complete it.
What frightens you most about the upcoming trip?
I’ll be travelling completely solo and unsupported, (I’ll carry my own gear and will resupply food and water at each town I pass through) and this take away a huge safety net. By relying completely on myself, every risk for setback, injury and mishap increases, particularly as I get more fatigued.
I’m very aware of the risks of the cycle leg, particularly about crossing the Nullabor. Accidents can and do happen, and if I am hit while cycling it’s likely to be a major injury at the least. I’m also very unsure about the swim leg. Adventure swimming is completely foreign to me as I didn’t get to experience it properly last time. The river will be freezing mid June and the currents in the Murray are notorious. I’ll be tense until both the cycle and the swim are complete.
What excites you most about the upcoming trip?
Each journey I’ve completed so far has taught me so much, and allowed me to experience and see incredible places and people. I expect this one to be no different. On this trip I’ll be heading the furtherest west I’ve ever been in Australia and I’m curious and excited to see what’s over there. I’m looking forward to seeing the Murray River from water level too adding to the kayak and SUP perspectives I've had of it already.
For a more specific example, I’m excited to reach Echuca. I feel like if I can get through the bike and the swim in relatively good condition I’ll be confident of finishing the trip as a whole.
What does the potential of setting a World Record mean to you?
It may sound funny, but not very much. The reason I’m attempting this trip is far more personal than to earn a World Record. After being so close to finishing “Australia’s Longest Triathlon” (the trip I set out to do last time) my main goal is to do exactly that – complete Australia’s Longest Triathlon. Coincidentally the trip west to east is longer than last time, and it's only as a result of that that this trip has the potential to break the record (if I’m successful).
ALT is my goal, but to be honest, the idea of earning a World Record definitely adds some icing on the cake when I imagine myself in Byron Bay.
Why are you supporting LIVIN?
Each of my journeys have shown me the capabilities of both the body and the mind, none more so than my last trip. In particular the last journey really highlighted the power, potential and importance of a strong mentality.
While there are some organisations spreading general awareness of mental health, LIVIN’s core message and the angle they take to promote it is something I really support and something I feel is important to get out there. I hope that 'Mental' can help break the stigma of mental health and show the power of a positive mindset. Mental health doesn’t have to be negative, and hopefully together LIVIN and myself can show this through the upcoming trip.
Where does the money raised go to?
All money raised will go to LIVIN's ‘LIVINwell’ Programs.
LIVINWell is a 45 minute mental health education programs built on LIVIN’s mantra “It Ain’t Weak to Speak”. The Program aims to break the stigma of mental health, enhance self-efficacy (both helping yourself and others) and encourage help seeking. LIVINWell is delivered by carefully selected, experienced and relatable facilitators who blend lived experience and mental health training.
To tie in with the record breaking potential of this trip I also want to set a personal fundraising record which means I'm looking to raise $83,000 for LIVIN.
How do we donate?
Anyone who wants to support Mental and LIVIN can donate at https://give.everydayhero.com/au/mental
How can others help with the trip?
There’s heaps of different ways I’m encouraging people to be a part of Mental. A few simple ones are:
1- Jump online and track my progress. I’ll be uploading tracking points as I go so you can follow the trip in real time.
2- Share the story. Every bit of awareness builds the supporter network and will help me out on the road and also help spread LIVIN’s message too.
3- Find me out on the road and wave/say hello/give some local advice/throw me a banana as I pass by. A 9,000km self supported could be a lonely trip, but I'm confident that I'll meet some great people along the way!
4- Contribute to the Mental Documentary. I hope to turn the story of this trip into a documentary and as I won’t be able to carry my own camera kit, I encourage everyone to track me down, film me as I pass, ask me a question, be your own producer and then send the footage through to add to the documentary.
When does Mental begin?
I'll start my trip in mid April 2020. As always I'll try to share as much as I can about the trip in the lead up to it so if you've got any other questions feel free to get in touch!