Every year, Martin Murley raises money to prevent youth homelessness at Run Melbourne. He couldn’t make it in 2016, so he mapped his own country run.
When Martin Murley was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in 2010, he knew he had to make some serious lifestyle changes. Not one to sit around and let the illness take hold, he immediately snapped into action.
“I had to change my eating habits and activity levels,” he says. “I decided to take up running because I could do it anywhere – all I needed was my shoes. I spent six weeks doing run/walk/run/walk, and then I ran my first 4K non-stop. I dropped 13kg over the course of the next six months and now I run 5 to 7K every weekday as part of my commute to work.”
As if the turnaround in Martin’s lifestyle wasn’t impressive enough, he decided to channel his new passion into raising money for a good cause. In July 2011, he ran his first half-marathon at Run Melbourne in support of Kids Under Cover, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preventing youth homelessness.
Martin loved the experience and decided to do it all over again in 2012. By the time Run Melbourne 2013 rolled around, he was in charge of Philanthropic Partnerships at Kids Under Cover.
“We provide accommodation to young people who are at risk of homelessness,” he says. “We build studios which are like little granny flats without kitchens that go into the backyards of carers’ properties. They might be parents, grandparents, other family members who look after the kids or even foster parents. At the moment, we have about 450 studios that house around 650 young people on any given night.”
With stronger ties to the cause than ever, Martin didn’t hesitate to continue his philanthropic efforts at Run Melbourne in 2014 and 2015. But in 2016, an important family commitment held on the same day as the race threatened to put an end to his fundraising streak. That is, until Martin devised a plan to combine the two events.
“It was my wife’s aunt’s 70th birthday in Cootamundra, NSW, which is a beautiful little country town,” says Martin. “I was still part of the registered team for Run Melbourne, but since I couldn’t be there, I decided I was going to run 10K in Cootamundra instead. I mapped out a route, and then some of my family members who were also travelling to Coota from Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne said, ‘Why don’t we all get involved?’”
And so “Cootarundra” was born. On the morning of July 24, 2016, as thousands of runners pounded the pavement in Melbourne, four runners and eight walkers faced frigid conditions in Cootamundra to honour Martin’s commitment to fighting youth homelessness.
“It was a family affair,” says Martin. “I never imagined that was going to happen – I just thought I’d just get up on Sunday morning and run 10K so I could justify accepting money from the people who had already agreed to sponsor me. But in the end, 11 extended family members, a horse and a Shetland pony joined me.”
Martin had carefully planned his route to include all the highlights of Cootamundra. “It was a bit tongue-in-cheek because there’s not much in Coota,” he says. “But it is a very important place in Australian history from a sports perspective – it’s the birthplace of cricket legend Don Bradman. We made sure the route went past his birthplace, and then we ran past Bradman Oval and Albert Park, which is where the annual Don Bradman cricket match is played between junior players from Cootamundra. And when we arrived at the finish line, 40 or so family members were forming a lovely finishing chute for us. It was a great day.”
Before arriving in Cootamundra, Martin had managed to raise a very respectable A$1200. But thanks to the last-minute support of locals and family members who were attending the birthday party, he was able to hand over a cheque for nearly A$1800 to Kids Under Cover.
Martin’s family had such a great time banding together in support of a great cause that they’re calling for it to become an annual event. “I do love Run Melbourne because it’s such a great time of year to run in my hometown,” he says. “But we might forego it in years to come in favour of ‘Cootarundra’.”
Not only has Martin’s running benefited the youth of Melbourne, it’s dramatically improved his health as well. “My diabetes is completely under control,” he says. “I haven’t taken any medication since the first year after I was diagnosed – it’s all managed through activity. My doctors are quite pleased with me.”
For information on how you can help prevent youth homelessness, please visit kuc.org.au