CHRIS Dixon, a Stratford local fast making a name for himself as a giant of endurance running and using it to champion noble causes, completed his latest challenge on April 5 – running 1000km from Sydney to Melbourne in two weeks as he raised $12,000 for TLC for Kids.

When running, whether you’re sprinting to the finish line in a race or completing a gruelling training session, the final strides are usually the quickest.

As your heart races, your feet burn, and your muscles fatigue, envisioning the finish line ahead and the runner’s high that comes after is its own nirvana.

Apparently, this principle holds true even when you’ve already covered 995 kilometres on foot between Sydney and Melbourne, as noted by Mr Dixon.

Between March 22 and April 5, Mr Dixon ran the distance between the two cities, raising money for TLC for Kids.

“My last five (kilometres) for the whole run were the quickest,” he said.

At the end of those five kilometres, Mr Dixon found more than just the finish line; he was greeted by his cherished daughter Gracie, along with family, friends, and supporters. Their cheers and applause marking the completion of ‘Chris Runs for TLC for Kids’.

“I was very excited to see my daughter … I was trying to get there as quickly as I could,” Mr Dixon said.

What a finish! Chris Dixon embracing his daughter Gracie and wife Emma at the finish line on April 5.

Mr Dixon, known for his past feat of running 240 kilometres in support of the Stratford Football-Netball Club’s mental health and wellness round and Lifeline Gippsland in June last year, this time laced up his sneakers to raise money for TLC for Kids.

The charity provides tailored practical and emotional support to families of children who are battling illness.

TLC’s services have been utilised 13 million times nationwide, offering essential emotional relief for children undergoing surgeries.

The charity delivers ‘distraction boxes’ filled with toys, aiding nurses in guiding children through procedures by diverting their focus from pain.

Additionally, the TLC Ambulance facilitates a day away from palliative care for children and their families, who are escorted by Ambulance Victoria volunteers to a destination of their choice.

It costs $1000 to provide this service, which pales in comparison to the value families and children find in the experience.

In preparation for the run, every week between December last year and March 22, 2024, Mr Dixon ran upwards of 150 kilometres a week as part of his training.

Local businesses and individuals could sponsor Mr Dixon by setting a dollar amount like $2 for every kilometre he ran in a week’s training block, with all proceeds going to TLC for Kids.

Mr Dixon raised a remarkable $12,000.

He said it meant a lot to have raised such an impressive sum.

“All the support that I’ve had from all the businesses and people around Gippsland in particular, outlines how supportive the community can be, especially when it’s helping (an organisation) like TLC for kids,” he said.

“That money will go into so much good work; helping the kids that need it through quality care and significant treatment. It really means the world, $12,000 is such a large amount of money, but for people to donate during such difficult times means a lot.”

And so it begins. Dixon ran the 1000km distance between Sydney and Melbourne in two weeks.

Despite his dedicated training, Mr Dixon noted that driving to Sydney the day before embarking on the run provided perspective. It made the distance – equivalent to running 41 marathons – even more daunting.

Still, Mr Dixon’s excitement and enthusiasm was steadfast.

“I was really eager to get on the road and get (the run) underway,” he said.

On Day 1, Mr Dixon, buoyed by rigorous training, commenced the run with a sense of confidence. The first of many 80-kilometre stints between Sydney and Picton felt manageable, earning a label of “easy” from Mr Dixon. However, as the day wore on and the temperature soared to a blistering 34 degrees, the harsh reality of heatstroke crept in.

To combat the scorching conditions, Mr Dixon guzzled up to five litres of water daily. Yet, hydration was just one of many challenges he faced. Running upwards of 50 kilometres each day demanded a herculean effort to maintain energy levels and ensure adequate calorie intake. Additionally, the punishing bitumen took its toll on Mr Dixon’s feet, leaving them plagued with blisters and bruises.

As the days wore on, Mr Dixon reported his feet swelled to the point it necessitated drastic measures. Taking to his sneakers with a pair of scissors, MrDixon made some modifications to relieve the discomfort he described as “trying to squeeze Shaq’s (Shaquille O’Neal) foot into a size three kids shoe every day”.

Amid the physical and mental strain, one particular day loomed as the ultimate test – April 2, Day 12. With 600 kilometres already conquered, facing another 80-kilometer-plus trek from Wangaratta to Euroa proved arduous. A determined, Mr Dixon pressed on.

Stratford local Chris Dixon ran from Sydney to Melbourne, raising money for TLC for Kids.

Separated from his family for two weeks, the absence weighed heavily, particularly as Easter passed without the chance to celebrate with his daughter, Gracie. Despite the emotional toll, Mr Dixon found solace in precious moments, sitting roadside to watch videos of Gracie’s Easter egg hunt, reminding him of the joys awaiting when he returned, which he said put the “fire in the belly” to keep pushing.

“Knowing what I was doing it for and knowing there was a reason I was pushing myself to do it”, was motivation for Mr Dixon.

“Amongst the running community that I know, not many people have run that sort of distance before, so it’s definitely a big achievement and a big bucket list (milestone) for me to tick off and reflect on for years to come up because I think it’s probably gonna be one of the bigger ones that I’ll do,” Mr Dixon said.

Chris would like to thank the 50-plus local businesses and individuals that contributed to the fundraising total, as well as his friends and family for their continuous support.