By Brett Kennedy
FOR much of 2020, distance has negatively impacted Emma Donald’s life as she grapples with COVID-19 border restrictions preventing her from visiting her Limestone Coast family.
Now the Ballarat resident is using distance as a motivator to not only combat her own personal challenges through positive action, but to support mental health and wellbeing support organisation Beyond Blue.
Ms Donald – an avid runner – has set her sights on her first marathon and will aim to cover the 42.2km distance twice as part of her fundraiser.
It will be a major achievement for the 41-year-old mother of two who was born and raised in Millicent to Bill and Anna Mullan.
A cross country competitor while attending Tenison Woods College, Ms Donald rediscovered her passion for running to support her physical and mental wellbeing.
Running has become a key element in Ms Donald’s management of her own mental health challenges including anxiety and depression, a catalyst for the Beyond Blue fundraiser, while her family has also sadly been bereaved by suicide.
“As an overthinker, I realised running made me not think of anything but running,” Ms Donald said.
Ms Donald said the impacts were particularly prevalent over the winter months.
She revealed COVID-19 restrictions had added to her seasonal depression, with lockdown measures, home-schooling requirements and the inability to see her Limestone Coast family affecting her wellbeing.
“We would generally come home once a month or my mum, dad or sister would come visit,” Ms Donald said.
“It has been hell. Because we are a close family, it has been really hard.
“They have still got to do things together and you can feel all alone.”
While the December 1 border reopening has been thrown into limbo as South Australia battles a surge in new coronavirus cases, Ms Donald remained hopeful she would be home for Christmas.
“Things are definitely looking up in Victoria and we haven’t known one person who has had the virus,” Ms Donald said.
“I feel like in some ways COVID has stolen a year of life from me.”
However, before a reunion can occur, there is running to be done and Ms Donald will tackle her first marathon on Saturday, using the repurposed Skipton rail trail as her course.
If successful, it will be the first time Ms Donald has surpassed the 42.2km marathon mark, besting her previous record of 32kms.
“I’m not after a time as such but ideally I would like to do six-minute kilometres – anything under five hours really,” she said.
Having completed several half marathons throughout her life, Ms Donald believes a marathon was an achievable feat, hence the desire to run two.
“That’s where the challenge and mental strength will come from,” she said.
Ms Donald will not be alone throughout her challenge with several friends planning to run by her side, while plenty of support will come from husband Chris and daughters Annabelle, 11, and Charlie, 9.
Visit https://individual-fundraiser-ongoing.everydayhero.com/au/emma-s-ultra-rail-trail-challenge to contribute to Ms Donald’s fundraiser.