Dec 1st, 2020


Man running on pathway next to lake on Perth foreshore and skyline

When at the office or on-site, it’s easy to forget that our colleagues have lives, families and challenges that deal with even when they’re on the job.

For TPCM’s Dean Blackwell, it was the loss of his sister that he carries with him even when he’s in the middle of swing in the Pilbara.

Dean’s sister Jessica tragically passed away in 2016 due to mental health-related illness.

“Jessica battled anorexia for half her life. The illness led her down a path of depression, which got the better of her in the end as her body couldn’t cope anymore.

“She was a beautiful person, and I wanted to do something to honour her and maybe help others like her,” he said.

Initially, Dean was unsure of what form that may take until he picked up a book entitled Ultramarathon Man, written by Dean Karnazes.

The book follows, the ambitious runner’s journey to becoming an ultramarathoner and his progression to completing some of the world’s best ultramarathons.

For our own Dean, the book planted the seed, and he started putting a plan together that would challenge his body, mind and spirit.

“I decided to run 100km from Northam to Perth in under 10 hours on Jessica’s Birthday on 11 December at the end of last year.

“The initial fundraising target was $1000 for every kilometre with all funds going to Beyond Blue. I’m inspired by the Beyond Blue’s work and wanted to support them

“Being a FIFO worker and I’m also deeply concerned by the number of FIFO workers who experience mental health issues, so Beyond Blue was front of mind when I thought of doing something to help those who face the challenges that my sister did,” he said.

Coming from a sports-orientated family as well as being a footy player, Dean was in pretty good shape to begin with, but even he knew that 100km was going to be something else.

He started training about six months before the big day but had some issues with his knee for the first couple of months. His physio – and old school mate and sponsor – was instrumental in getting him ready for the challenge and in the end, he managed four months of solid training.

About four weeks out for the day, the weather was supposed to be in the mid-twenties, but it spiked, and Dean set off in 38-degree temperatures. He unashamedly admits that it was tough going.

“You get to a point where you stop and walk and can’t figure how you’re going to start again. The 50 to 75km mark was the hardest, and I was only able to achieve it with the help and support of so many good people,” he said.

Dean’s family and friends all played a role in the event.

“Dad followed along in the ute, and my brother flew over to support me on the run. He even completed 25kms of the journey with me without any training. I know Jess would’ve loved seeing us work together in her honour like that.

“My girlfriend is probably my biggest fan; she never doubted my ability to achieve my dreams when they are positive and worthwhile. She put in a massive effort on the day and managed all the social media,” he said.

While Dean didn’t quite hit the $100K mark, he still ranked as Beyond Blue’s highest induvial fundraiser for the year, with the non-profit’s Chairman Julia Gillard sending a letter to thank and congratulate him.

“I feel so honoured and humbled by all the support, donations and well wishes, it has been truly overwhelming and heart-warming. To have so many people buy into the idea and for it to have been such a massive success is something I’ll never forget and be forever grateful for,” He said.

If you or someone close to you needs assistance, support services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 659 467), or from Schlam's Employee Assistance Providers BSS (1800 30 30 90).


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