This Sunday Warilla's Craig Burke will be taking on the Illawarra equivalent of the Coolangatta Gold to raise funds for The Man Walk and the Mental Health Movement.
Mr Burke wanted to do something for mental health locally following the cancellation of the Coolangatta Gold, which in recent years has been dominated by former Warilla Barrack Point Ironman Ali Day.
He kept up his training and starting at 6am on Sunday is planning to ski, board and swim a 40-kilometre course from Wollongong Harbour to Kiama Harbour.
Mr Burke said he was motivated by his own personal experience with mental health and the number of young lives lost to suicide in the region in 2020. Particularly young men in the Kiama and Gerringong area.
"I am doing this to promote awareness around mental health," he said.
"I went through a bit of a black time several years ago. I got through with the help of my gorgeous wife Kirsty. And when I came out the other side thought I would try to promote that fact it is okay to talk about it.
"It is really important to get people talking. Mark Burns from The Man Walk has been fantastic. What he started in Kiama is now going all around the world and that is awesome. When you are walking it seems easy to talk. It can be about the footy or anything but sometimes a bit of gold comes out of such a discussion when someone opens up a little bit."
Mr Burke said the number of suicides of young men in Kiama and Gerringong this year had really hit home because they were his daughter Jordyn's age and she knew some of them.
He said the Mental Health Movement founded by Dan Hunt was also doing great work within workplaces.
Mr Burke expects the grueling 40km open water course to take him about 4.5 hours which will mean he will arrived in Kiama Harbour between 11am and 12 noon.
He will be joined by his son Kynan Burke, 14, on a couple of the legs
"Several people will do part of the course with me," he said.
- 6am departing Wollongong Harbour paddling a ski to Warilla Beach.
- Paddling a board from Warilla Beach to Shellharbour Beach.
- Paddling a ski from Shellharbour Beach to Minnamurra River.
- Running from Minnamurra River to Kiama Harbour.
If you or someone you knowneeds help phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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