The Fernleigh 15 will take on a new format in 2020 with an event that will keep the community active while supporting the mental health of people across the Hunter and beyond.
Social distancing restrictions has meant the traditional event, which is part of the Greater Bank Fun Run Series, has been replaced by a virtual fun run to be held from 1 to 30 November.
Participants of all ages, abilities and fitness levels will have the opportunity to test themselves against others in the community by covering the 15km track at any time throughout the month.
Event host, RunNSW (the recreational running arm of Athletics NSW), is encouraging participants to take on the iconic course and run the full 15km track from Adamstown to Belmont or enter a team of five to each cover 3kms.
Those people who want to participate in the event but can’t get to the track can cover the 15kms in their local neighbourhood or around their favourite running area.
The 2020 Virtual Fernleigh 15 has linked with charity partner Lifeline Hunter, a local organisation that operates a free, 24-hour Telephone Crisis Support line (13 11 14) and provides a local, no cost, no referral face-to-face and video counselling service.
Greater Bank will donate to Lifeline $1.00 per kilometre run by participants as part of the event up to $5000* and is also encouraging participants to raise funds for the charity that will directly support Lifeline’s services in the Hunter.
Athletics NSW CEO, Kirin Lindop, said that like all other sporting organisations they had to transform the traditional Fernleigh 15 to ensure the running community remained active and connected.
“Since its first running in 2012, the Fernleigh 15 has grown in popularity, with last year’s event attracting 1,600 participants. While we’d love to replicate that this year, COVID-19 restrictions has meant we’ve had to do things differently by creating a month-long virtual event,” Kirin said.
“This year has been like no other and the effects on communities right around Australia, in particular relating to mental health, have been profound. We know there is an intrinsic link between physical health and mental wellbeing. Exercise not only improves a person’s physical health but also their mental wellbeing by reducing stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
“As such, we saw a wonderful opportunity to use the Fernleigh 15 as a platform to promote positive mental health, and also raise funds for Lifeline Hunter to allow them to continue to provide their invaluable resource for the people of this region,” Kiran said
Lifeline’s Regional General Manager Hunter, New England & Central Coast, Julie Wicks, said that Lifeline is extremely grateful to be chosen as the charity partner for the 2020 Fernleigh 15.
“Exercising is a known coping mechanism linked to supporting improved mental health, so this event has a wonderful synergy,” Julie said.
“Lifeline relies heavily on community support to fund our critical services, so we can’t thank Greater Bank, RunNSW and the participants who choose to fundraise enough for their support of us through this year’s Fernleigh 15.” | Julie Wicks, Lifeline’s Regional General Manager Hunter, New England & Central Coast
Greater Bank’s Head of Marketing and Customer Experience, Matthew Hingston, said that the customer-owned bank remains totally committed to supporting its community partners during these challenging times, and continues to work with organisations like RunNSW to develop different paths for program delivery.
“Greater Bank has a long history of supporting the communities that support us. We’ve enjoyed working with Run NSW to redesign the Fernleigh 15 to ensure that in these times of social distancing we continue to engage the community while promoting the importance of leading an active and healthy lifestyle,” Mr Hingston said.
“The event’s partnership with Lifeline Hunter is incredibly important for our entire community and we look forward to playing our part to support this wonderful cause.”
All runners located within 100km of Newcastle who complete the event can upload proof of their time to receive a finisher’s medal and go into a draw to win one of six $100 Greater Bank accounts.