Running his first Boston Marathon was never going to be easy for Warrnambool man Ashley Ansell.
The 35 year-old hospitality manager had been plagued with old injuries long before he took his place at the starting line with 32,000 other participants.
But raising over $15,000 for Lifeline South West Victoria was the motivation he needed as he fought a battle of a different kind.
“Even when I tried to run through the pain my body wouldn’t hold up,” he said.
“But not finishing the run was never an option.”
As Mr Ansell limped his way across the finish line of the 42-kilometre race he said the pain of others was etched in his mind.
“It was an emotional battle to the very end,” he said.
“It was fitting the way the race turned out. It wasn’t easy and I reflected on what those with mental health issues face every single day.
“It’s pain. Pain of another kind.”
Mr Ansell said that while he was still counting donations the figure had already exceeded expectations.
“The goal was originally to raise $8,000,” he said.
“It’s pretty incredible that we’ll end up with more than $15,000.
“It goes to show this issue touches so many people directly and indirectly.
“I believe everyone in a community is touched by suicide in some way.”
Lifeline South West Victoria’s Bess Slater said Mr Ansell’s personal fitness training and fundraising efforts were to be commended.
“Ash has done a fantastic job over the past six months fundraising for Lifeline South West Victoria in the lead up to the Boston Marathon,” she said.
“It’s been great to have someone so enthusiastic and passionate involved to raise awareness for suicide prevention in our community.”
Ms Slater said the funds raised would be used to support a new phone system for the support agency.
“The $15,000 will be used to support a new Lifeline service, the Connect Call Back Service,” she said. “The service aims to offer short term call back crisis support for individuals from the South West region who have attempted suicide, are experiencing suicidal ideation or those who are impacted by suicide.” He said competing in the international event was an experience he would cherish.
“Once I began fundraising it became less about a finish time and more about a journey that I shared with a lot of people,” he said. “I am very grateful for all the support I received and I really hope I’ve been able to help some people in some way.”
- If you or someone you know needs help call Lifeline on 131 114