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Dani’s nine marathons in nine days raises money for good cause

By James Bennett

Just the thought of running a marathon might send nasty muscle pains down the hamstrings for many, but it barely makes Dani McLaren break a sweat.

Last week, the Shepparton mum completed her ninth marathon . . . in nine days.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions forcing the postponement of the Bravehearts 777 Marathon — seven marathons across seven states in seven days — Ms McLaren had to do things a little differently.

Keeping up with Bravehearts’ efforts to raise awareness of children's sexual abuse, Ms McLaren chose to run nine marathons across Greater Shepparton.

She began running the event six years ago having had her own personal traumas with child sexual abuse.

“Running shows me that the physical pain is tough but you can eventually get through it mentally,” Ms McLaren said.

“Also over the years people and families have come up to me and said `because of what you're doing, we will continue to survive and fight'.

“It's really hard to give up when you hear stories like that,” she said.

She said her decision to run the two additional marathons was due to the alarming statistic that sexual abuse was the primary type of abuse for nine per cent of children.

The St Georges Road Primary School teacher ran the marathons across Tatura, Dookie, Shepparton, Mooroopna, Murchison and Kialla.

Over the four- to five-hour slog Ms McLaren hardly listened to music but instead took in her surroundings and imagined having survivors and her support group behind her.

“I think about the kids and why I am doing it and they push me along,” Ms McLaren said.

“More than ever we need awareness for this cause,” she said.

Crossing the finish line on Sunday at Shepparton's Victoria Park Lake flanked by her support crew, Ms McLaren was ready to run again — showing no signs of pain but naturally just emotional about her achievements.

Preparing for her personal challenge, Ms McLaren said other than running more than usual this year there had not been much of a training regime.

She even admitted that she didn't stretch before running and treated herself to a Big Mac burger following one of her runs.

“It's painful at the start of the run but you get used to it,” Ms McLaren said.

It's the sixth year Ms McLaren has completed the 777 marathon. Over the years she has raised more than $60,000 for Bravehearts.

“It was harder doing it on my own this year but at the end of the day we got the same message across, which is fantastic,” Ms McLaren said.

“I'm just doing the leg work, it's a whole community effort from the fundraising to the people that spread the message.

“I hope I don't have to run for Bravehearts much longer because the cause doesn't exist in the future — but until then I will try to run as long as I can."

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