Zaida Glibanovic

 

POUNDING the pavement in the name of friendship.

One foot in front of the other for 17 days straight is how Rosedale’s Brock Williams completed his near 1000-kilometre journey to raise money for a cause close to his heart.

“As hard as it was it was an experience of a lifetime,” Williams said upon crossing the finish line.

When Williams first heard of Kilmany lad Xavier Mills’ osteosarcoma cancer diagnosis, he knew he had to help out in any way he could.

So, Williams ran from Adelaide to Rosedale to raise money for a charity that assists young cancer patients and their families.

The Sony Foundation’s You Can Stay program provides regional youth cancer patients aged 15 to 25 who must travel to city hospitals for life-saving treatment, a place to stay at no cost.

The program provided Xavier and the Mills family essential assistance throughout his treatment at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Running an average of 60km over 17 days, Williams was greeted with congratulatory words and tearful embraces as he arrived at the Rosedale Hotel last Sunday (December 17).

Speaking to the Gippsland Times about his emotions at the finish line, Williams said it was a dreamlike experience.

“Thinking about it now – it doesn’t feel real … after being alone in the rural parts of South Australia for however long, you didn’t see anything that you know, and (then) seeing all these places you start to recognise,” he said.

“It was the best feeling of my life.”

‘Brock’s Border Run’ has since raised around $40,000 with help from the Rosedale Hotel.

The funding Williams raised will go on to provide 210 overnight stays for young children receiving cancer treatment to stay with their family.

“Half a year of accommodation for sick children … it’s pretty amazing,” he said.

Hundreds of people came to the local pub to show their support for Williams and his cause.

“Having everyone out there clapping me on and everything, it was pretty cool,” he said.

Xavier and his family were extremely grateful for Williams’ courageous fundraising effort.

“A lot of my friends and family were tearing up at the end – (with a) few people I have never seen cry before – I wish I could relive those 20 minutes at the initial ending,” he said.

“It sounds cliché, but seriously it was a team effort,” he added.

“Without (my support team) I wouldn’t have been able to do It … I’m lucky to have had all them in my corner.”

‘Brock’s Border Run’ was an incredibly challenging journey yet, Williams said his body held up better than expected.

“It’s honestly pretty good – I thought it would’ve been worse,” he said.

“Some days it felt like you were running like knives were getting stabbed into the bottom of your feet.

“Last week, I was pretty damaged, but it’s a lot better this week.”

Experiencing some rough days on the road, Williams worked hard to get through them after suffering from Iliotibial band syndrome – a painful injury in the knee.

“It was pretty hard – you can’t really ignore the pain when you’re getting reminded of it with every single step, but you just had to try,” he said.

“I’d pick out something in the distance; sometimes it would be a speed sign – sometimes it would be a tree, and I just had to run to that.”

Williams said the trick to accomplishing a run of this magnitude was to take it step by step.

“I tried not to think too much about how far I was from home,” he said.

“It might’ve been the first day I got back into Victoria, but it was still 700km from where I had to be, so I was thinking, ‘Don’t think about the end. Try to get through the day. Get this 5km done, 10km, 20km, get to the end, rest up and then do your recovery.”

While the near-1000km run was a test of Williams’ physical capability, it was also a mental battle.

“Don’t get me wrong, physically, it was challenging, but mentally, that was probably the hardest part of it,” he said.

“I tried to come back to what I could control, and that was my effort in putting one foot in front of the other and not getting too far ahead of myself.”

Williams’ training for the run might surprise some, as the young man only ran 100km per week in preparation.

“I did a few weeks at 100km plus, for the average-Joe that’s alright but for someone that’s preparing to run 400km a week for two-and-a-half weeks, someone might look at it and think that’s not enough,” he said.

Having prepared himself with strength training and sought medical advice, Williams was assured his body could withstand the journey.

Despite the fact Williams suffered through injuries, excoriating pain, exhaustion, headwinds, downpours and inclines, he never gave up – with a clear goal to help Xavier and others like him.

“There was never a point where I necessarily doubted myself that I couldn’t get it done – the plan from the start was to finish December 17th,” he said.

Now, following through with some gentle movement, hitting the gym and swimming, Williams said he won’t be running for a little while.

Williams received the warmest welcome from locals, with high-fives and cheers.

In a warm embrace with his mother. Photos: Zaida Glibanovic

Aunty Naomi was beaming with pride.

Best mate Jonty McGuiness ensures Williams stayed hydrated post-run.

A few hundred people came to the Rosedale Hotel and showed their support for ‘Brock’s Border Run’.