BRAVE AT HEART: Fenix Maiorana is taking on the Bravehearts 777 Marathon, which will see him cover 168 kilometres next week in the name of fundraising to support children who are survivors of sexual assault. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

COMPLETING a marathon is a bucket-list item for many Australians. But how about covering 168 kilometres in a week?

It may seem like a typo, but Mildura man Fenix Maiorana is aiming to do just that.

The 31-year-old is one of 12 people taking on the Bravehearts 777 Marathon Challenge next week. It comprises seven marathons in seven cities over seven days. Fenix will complete six consecutive half-marathons, before finishing his week with the full, 42-kilometre run.

Many could not imagine a more painful set of circumstances, but the cause Fenix is supporting helps children through much worse situations.

Bravehearts is Australia’s leading child protection agency and offers a range of support services, educational programs and research programs into preventing the sexual assault of children in our society.

As a victim of sexual assault from the age of five into adulthood, Fenix decided to support Bravehearts in any possible way — even if it meant pushing his body to the limit.

“I have been training and fund-raising since January. I’ve raised over $9000 so far and I am looking to reach $10,000,” he said.

“I’ve never been a runner. I was always someone who saw people up and running in the morning and think ‘what are you doing that for?’

“It was hard to start with, I could barely run a kilometre but now I’m smashing out 15km pretty comfortably.

“I have a good reason to do it, and that’s what keeps me going. You hear runners talk about ‘hitting the wall’ — that’s real, it happens. For me, being a sexual assault survivor and wanting to help make a difference in the lives of children who may be going through a similar situation, reminding myself of that is what will push me through.

“I moved back from Melbourne at the end of last year and I got this tattoo on my wrist, which is the symbol of a survivor. If I’m struggling I look to that tattoo for inspiration because I want to give hope to other survivors out there.

“I know just how influential services like Bravehearts can be in supporting Australians. It was a life saver for me. Without that professional support I wouldn’t be here today.”

Fenix, a chef by trade, was diagnosed with depression at age 18, but it was not until two years ago that he broke his silence and sought support for the long-term sexual assault he was exposed to.

“I never really delved into the deeper issues I needed to work through,” he said.

“It was two years ago when I finally came out and admitted what had happened and began to work through these things with professional services. They have been life changing.

“I want to fight for these young Aussies who are going through similar situations. Bravehearts want to make Australia the safest country in the world to raise a child. What more motivation can you want than that.”

Once he completes the epic challenge, Fenix is keen to begin studying to become a counsellor and work with victims of sexual assault.

The first marathon begins in Perth on Monday and is followed by runs in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney and culminating with the Gold Coast Marathon.

To donate to Fenix’s cause, search for Fenix’s Bravehearts 777 Marathon page on Facebook. For further information on the service visit www.bravehearts.com.au.