The end of October’s Mental Health Awareness Month was marked at HMAS Kuttabul gymnasium with a novel marathon to raise money for Soldier On.

Twenty teams of three hit the ski trainers and rowing machines on October 30 to clock up 42.195km and raise $3535 for the charity that provides health and wellbeing services for Defence personnel and their families.

Chaplain Jon-Paul Barry, who organised the event in conjunction with physical training instructor Leading Seaman Jessica Fisher, said he was blown away by the support the teams showed to each other and the atmosphere on the day.

“The thing that stood out for me on the day was the camaraderie and peer support for every team,” he said.

“Not a single person left until all teams had finished, and every team was cheered on to the end.

“The turnout and atmosphere really emphasised how important mental health awareness is and how events like this not only enable us to raise money for meaningful causes, but also come together and support each other.”

The winning teams not only had adrenaline rushes, but also won vouchers and a feed at the barbecue cooked up by the senior chaplain and command warrant officer. 

The teams NUSHIP Supply, Gap Years and ATG took out first, second and third places, respectively, while HMAS Canberra had the fastest 2km skiers and the Gap Years, the fastest 2km rowers.

Seaman Max Betts from NUSHIP Supply said his team had not trained to tackle the marathon, but were immediately keen to support it when they were told about it.

“Once we heard the marathon was for mental health awareness, we were eager to sign up even though we were not prepared,” Seaman Betts said.

“Our sole purpose was to have fun and help raise awareness and money for the cause.

“When we won, we were relieved that it was all over − our legs and lungs were crying out in pain, but you couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. 

“We celebrated afterwards by having a barbecue with everyone else who participated, followed by the best sleep ever that night.”

Current and ex-serving ADF members, and their families, can seek mental health support at the ADF Health and Wellbeing Portal ‘Fighting Fit’ at https://www1.defence.gov.au/adf-members-families/health-well-being.