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Manjimup Mates Run 500 For Men’s Health

Manjimup mates run 500 for men's health

The runners (from left): Mat Johnston, Wayne Barnden, Heath East, Paul Omodei, Tim Lyster and Anthony Stubberfield. (Vanessa Wong)

Since retiring from AFL football, former West Coast Eagles player Glen Jakovitch’s life goal is to watch his kids grow up and follow their dreams.

He is inspired by his dad who didn’t get a chance to do that.

Glen Jakovitch’s father died from prostate cancer just a month before his son played his first ever league game for South Fremantle.

“I played over 360 league games both at a WAFL and an AFL level…that was my sport, that was my profession, that was my life.

“My father didn’t see one of those games, he was diagnosed with secondary cancer when I was 15 years of age and three months later he died.

“There was no awareness, there was no research, there was no nothing…he was 54 years of age, he was fit as a fiddle.”

It’s stories like these that inspired six local football coaches in the south-west of Western Australia to run 500 kilometres to raise $50,000 for regional men’s health and prostate cancer.

Manjimup mates Paul Omodei, Heath East, Anthony Stubberfield, Tim Lyster, Mat Johnston and Wayne Barnden created the “Mates 500 Relay” which they ran over four days at the end of March.

The group ran from Nannup to Northcliffe to Frankland to Boyup Brook to Kojonup to Manjimup and many places in between, holding seminars at schools and sports clubs promoting awareness of regional men’s health.

Owen Catto from the Regional Men’s Health Initiative travelled with the runners and made presentations in towns along the way.

His goal is to make men living in regional WA more aware of both their physical and mental health.

“Visit your GP, make that service appointment, we need to catch up because all these cancers and a lot of the issues we have are 99.9 per cent treatable if they’re identified.

“Talk to a mate, really important…a lot of blokes in the rural areas are operating outside their comfort zones now so talk to a mate, keep it up and you’ll get through it.”

Runner Paul Omodei says the relay was one of the biggest challenges he has ever faced.

“I think all the runners were a bit worried about Wednesday afternoon which was a big run from Northcliffe to half way to Kojonup, we covered 160 kilometres that day.

“It was hot in the afternoon, not much shade over there and we were all feeling very sore that night…but we woke up really well, had a great team behind us and yeah we got through.

“We’ll never forget this experience, it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done in our lives.”

As the six mates crossed the finish line in Manjimup on Friday, sirens blared, car horns beeped and a huge crowd of people cheered at the top of their lungs.

In that moment the words of Glen Jakovitch from his opening night speech rang true.

“To your friends, to your family, to your children…you’re going to be a hero.”


By Celia Polkinghorne from Manjimup 6258
Source: ABC Rural

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