Elli Kennedy is a Torquay local, a mother of 2 and fitness coach. Just recently, she completed the Great Ocean Road Ultra Marathon in an effort to raise as much money as possible for the Andrew Love Cancer Centre and to fund her Father’s bucket list.
Elli’s Dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in December 2015, with no positive signs of recovery. Elli and her brother set out to raise as much money as possible and to complete the 60km run.
Before we get into the specifics about your amazing journey to raise money, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Of course, I currently live in Torquay with my husband, 2 year old boy Jaggar, 1 year old little girl Marlo, and 2 pugaliers, Dexter and Nelly.
I have worked as a fitness coach for the past 10 years, and have been working at Cotton On Head Office in North Geelong for 3.5 years in their Health and Wellbeing team.
You set a massive goal for yourself in aiming to complete the Great Ocean Road ultra-marathon, what made you decide to do it?
Originally I had planned to do the Great Ocean Road marathon as my first marathon and as a fitness goal after my second baby and knee reconstruction the previous year. Plans changed when my dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at Christmas time. Feeling pretty helpless, we wanted to do something for him. This is where the idea to run the 60km event as a fundraiser came about.
You raised $16,000, way over your target of $8,000. The money is going to your dad’s bucket list and the Andrew Love Cancer Centre (ALCC). Why have you chosen to fundraise for these causes?
With the type of cancer Dad has, no amount of treatment is going to cure him so we thought the money raised could go to him ticking off some things from his bucket list.
Initially, he didn’t know about the fundraiser so when we were quizzing him about what was on his bucket list it was really giving us an idea of what our target could be.
Of all the things in the whole world he could do, he wanted to go to Tassie, but for us, it was a pretty realistic and achievable goal.
We also chose to contribute to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre as they are currently fundraising for their new redevelopment. There are some pretty amazing people that work in that place and we are so lucky to have such amazing facilities available to our community. I knew dad would be pretty embarrassed about the fundraiser but I also knew that he would love that it will be helping out the ALCC as well.
Now, onto the event… How did mentally and physically prepare for such a big run?
I believe that preparing for any event or goal is 80% mental. I had to change my mentally from doubting my ability, to believing that it was possible for me to do.
Anytime I had doubt, fear, or negative thoughts creep in, I would make an effort to tell myself that I could do it. I would tell myself that the burn a felt in my legs was just them adapting to be able to go a little further next week.
I set myself a plan, had a clear goal and stuck to that program.
Physically, as long as I stuck to my program, I knew that I would arrive on the day as physically prepared as I could be.
My training plan was 15 weeks but I started with just over 16 weeks to allow for any injuries or sickness that may pop up which was lucky as I ended up with tendinitis in the last couple of weeks.
Leading up to the event, were you hopeful that you would not only finish the run, but also raise enough money to make a difference?
I understood that training was definitely the hardest part. If I could get through the training then the event was the fun part. Once I past the peak week of training I had no doubt about the distance on the day.
Initially when we started the fundraiser, we set our target of $6000. I had no expectations of what we could reach and was blown away that we nearly reached that target in the first week!
I set it a little higher to $8000 then once we reached that I just let it keep rolling. I’m so blown away by people generosity and compassion and am forever grateful.
What was the event like, obviously it was tough given it was 60km, and the weather wasn’t ideal that day either. How did you push through?
I was lucky enough to run into a great friend Laura Cole, at the start of the run, she was also doing the 60km event. We had planned to run the same pace and ended up doing the whole run together.
The first 30km we absolutely flew through, the scenery is beyond amazing. Once we came around the point of Cape Paton we hit some seriously weather and head winds. It drilled us. There were times where we were walking faster then we could run because the winds were so strong. Then we had the turn offs in the 60 km event, which were basically vertical!!
I think I would have struggled so much more if I didn’t have Laura to go through it with.
Once we were 6km out of Apollo bay the adrenaline kicked in. I couldn’t wait to get to the end and see my family and friends. I wish I could bottle the feeling of hitting the straight coming into Apollo bay and seeing that big arch at the finish line. For those last few kilometres we were just randomly breaking out in tears, they were good tears though. It was very emotional.
Now that you have finished the event, what’s next?
For me, I play netball for a local Geelong club Bell Park, so I’m looking forward to enjoying a few games with them. Then start training again, this time for the 50 km surf coast century trail run in September…. Then netball preseason!
Is there any one you would like to thank?
Everyone that donated!!! Especially out corporate sponsors Essendon Ford, McCartney Real Estate, and Menheere Bros Ocean Grove. Also to everybody that offer their words of encouragement and support along the way. And of course my husband that held the fort with our 2 young kiddies while I was out running.
On the 9th of June, Elli and her Dad headed to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre to donate over $6,000 to their new redevelopment.
Our lovely intern Jessica Leader wrote this blog and we love it!