Merewether’s Rachel Henshaw says that if someone told her ten years ago that she would run one of the world’s most challenging marathons, she would have just laughed.
“I would say that would never happen in a million years,” Ms Henshaw said.
The 41-year-old mother-of-three does think competing in China’s Great Wall Marathon is “nuts” but says “there’s nothing wrong” with that.
“If you’re going to do a marathon why not try the hardest one possible to push you boundaries and test your limitations of what you’re really willing to do?” she said.
A 42 kilometre run through Chinese villages, and on the ancient wall itself, may sound like an extreme way to test yourself, but the race is part of an even bigger journey.
Concerned by “the massive loss of young life” to suicide, and having suffered depression herself, Ms Henshaw is on a mission to prompt honest conversations about mental health.
She and her husband, Mick, began Another Sunrise last year, a Facebook group that encourages members to share their experiences of mental illness and offer support to others.
“It is an initiative to try and get the community to connect,” she said.
“We like the idea of being able to put your hand out and help someone else that may not have the fantastic supportive family I have.”
In September Ms Henshaw organised a paddle out at Merewether Beach to honour the lives of those lost too early, and unnecessarily, to suicide.
She’ll be running in China to raise money for Lifeline.
“To save one person. Just one person and it’s all worth it,” she said.
“If that one person connects to Lifeline or Everymind or their next door neighbour or friend, if we can make people stop and consider others to save that one person, then all of this is worth it.”
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The Hunter Water Hunter Hero nominee says she has been supported by her husband, her own “hero”, who will also be competing in the race.
“Having my soul mate right next to me and us pushing each other along is quite empowering,” Ms Henshaw said.
The couple have been undergoing weight training, endurance training, jogging and doing “quite a bit of mountain biking” in preparation for the marathon in April.
“I’m building up my core and certainly building up my legs. There’s 5921 stairs I think,” she said.
“The stones and the steps are all different levels and shapes so it’s uneven terrain but it is just going to be mind blowing.”
She said anyone wanting to sponsor the run can contact the “Another Sunrise” page on social media.
The pair will host a second paddle out event in November.
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