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Mark Avery passes by the flowering Jacaranda trees along Dobie St in Grafton on his 1000km run from Tweed Heads to Sydney to raise money for charity. Image: contributed.

Purple blooms add to memorable marathon memories

Emma Pritchard
 
He has run through some of the most pristine areas of the Northern Rivers region and seen some spectacular scenery, but the breathtaking purple streets of Grafton were exceptionally captivating for Mark Avery.
Currently partway through his epic journey from Tweed Heads to Sydney, Mr Avery is running 20 marathons in 20 days, a total of 1000km, to raise $20,000 for Gotcha4Life.
On October 31, he ran more than 30km from Gurranang to Grafton and enjoyed a night’s rest in the famous Jacaranda city.
At the time of his stopover, Mr Avery had raised $13,600 for the not-for-profit organisation which focuses on mental health issues and reducing suicide across Australia.
Describing every day of his journey as different since he started running on October 26, Mr Avery said the blossoming Jacaranda trees were “really beautiful” and he and his family, who are accompanying him on his way to Sydney, had been made to feel very welcome by local residents.
“Grafton is very laid back and it had a great community feel to it,” said Mr Avery.
“We all enjoyed visiting the city.
“I’m glad we changed the route and went there because we all loved it.”
Mr Avery arrived in Grafton via Lawrence Road and said his journey south is allowing him and his family to visit towns and communities they have not travelled to previously.
He also said his children, Lily, 10, and Alfie, 8, are keeping diaries of their day-to-day movements and both of them were in awe of the stunning purple blossoms that greeted them in Grafton.
Although he confessed it was difficult to pick the most memorable moment of his travels so far, Mr Avery said he had been “really lucky” to follow good weather along his chosen routes.
He has also been in regular contact with Gus Worland, chairman and founder of Gotcha4Life.
“He’s dropped me a couple of messages,” Mr Avery said.
Mr Worland, along with more than 250 people, have also been supporting Mr Avery’s cause by participating in a virtual event online which allows them to sign up and run with him with all proceeds raised going directly to Gotcha4Life.
Mr Avery said the $20,000 he is aiming to raise will enable the charity to provide workshops in schools and clubs to build the mental fitness of communities in Australia.
Mr Avery left Grafton, bound for Coffs Harbour on the next leg of his journey on November 1, but not before visiting the Jacaranda souvenir shop in Prince St with his family where they purchased several gifts, including a Jacaranda t-shirt and beer cooler.
Mr Avery will arrive in Sydney on November 14.
Anyone who would like to track his progress or make a donation to Gotcha4Life can do so by visiting www.run4mentalfitness.com

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