There are many inspiring stories of people making a difference that we come across in our local Inner West community. Passionate individuals, who go above and beyond to support a great cause. So, when we heard about the Guinness World Record attempt by Mark Avery, to raise awareness and funds for cancer prevention by running on a treadmill for 24 hours, we could not wait to get involved.

It’s a story that touches the heartstrings, following in the footsteps of his mentor and friend Luca Turrini, who currently holds the record. On 12 March 2022 the world-record attempt will take place here at Concord Bowling Club. It’s the equivalent of running 6 back-to-back marathons, held in partnership with charity Outrun Cancer.
The goal is to shine a light on cancer prevention and raise some much-needed funds for further research. Plus, it’s a perfect excuse to pop down to the Bowlo in Concord throughout the weekend and cheer him on. Let us tell you Mark’s inspiring story and more about this amazing cause.

The Outrun Cancer Challenge

This 265km world record attempt was supposed to take place on 6th October 2021. It was the date that Mark’s friend and neighbour Frank was diagnosed with cancer nearly 7 years ago. Sadly, his good mate lost his battle in February 2015, just a few months after his sudden diagnosis. COVID-19 lockdowns meant that the world record attempt needed to be delayed and the new date of 12 March was set to coincide with #outruncancerday. Mark’s been hard at work training ever since as you can see on his Instagram account @markjamesavery!

Cancer unfortunately effects so many people – both directly and indirectly – and whilst creating awareness is important and necessary, it requires energy to create change. The hope for Mark was that if people were to get involved and walk away from this event feeling empowered, they might either commit to some healthy habits like walking or running.

Mark’s Inspiration – Meet Luca Turrini and his charity Outrun Cancer

Mark reflects on the impact of his friend Frank’s passing.
“One minute we were all laughing and messing about, passing our kids over the back fence to each other’s houses, and in a short space of time Frank was gone and we were all a bit lost. I just couldn’t make sense of it at the time. I started drinking. Couldn’t sleep. Started to struggle at work. And became anxious and depressed. Running helped bring me out of the darkness and gave me hope. It gave me purpose. It was in my darkest moment that for some reason I decided to run from Brisbane to Sydney.”

When he started to prepare for his last challenge he was introduced to this passionate and energetic ultra-runner called Luca Turrini, who was the founder of the charity Outrun Cancer. Not only had he run 20 marathons in a month in Italy, but in 2017 he ran 261km in 24 hours on a treadmill…becoming a Guinness World Record Holder in the process!

There are 3 key outcomes that are linked to the Outrun Cancer motto which drives the organisation:

  1. Run – Have fun and get people moving (with a big virtual challenge to run alongside)
  2. Prevent – Raise funds for the Cancer Council’s ‘Healthy Lunchbox’ project
  3. Inspire – Inspire people to make a change and commitment to healthy lifestyle choices

The challenge was set – a goal in mind and a vision to make a difference created. After picking Luca’s brain for over an hour, Mark remembers typing his name into YouTube to find his documentary detailing his world record. Be inspired for yourself in the short clip below.

Mark watched it over and over. He was hooked. “I couldn’t get my head around how someone could do that. I thought to myself if I can get through Brisbane to Sydney in one piece, I’d love to have a crack” says Mark.
A friendship was instantly formed. Luca ran with Mark on marathon number three from Byron Bay. As they were running along the beach and discussing some of the achievements, the idea was born to also tackle a challenge – “Let’s chat,” said Luca. So, in January Mark called him up and said I would love to partner with him and his charity Outrun Cancer and go for the record. The rest is history, and the challenge is imminent.
Mark makes the point “It’s not just about the running. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think about Frank. It is estimated that at least one third of all cancer cases are preventable, and that potentially more than half of all cancers could be avoided through a combination of healthy lifestyle and regular screening.”
This is an opportunity to make a difference. Mark notes “I’m doing this for my family, to lead by example and to show my kids Lily and Alfie that anything is possible. I’m doing this in honour of those who won the battle, those who are still fighting the battle, and those who unfortunately lost the battle to cancer.”

How to get involved?

As a proud sponsor, we’re urging our members and the Inner West community to get involved. Or perhaps you’d like to donate online if you can’t make it in person?

Come on down to Concord Bowlo on 12 March and show your support. We’ll have the coffee cart serving up hot beverages, local sporting groups are coming to cheer Mark on, and we’ll stream some of the initiatives live our on Facebook page. Together let’s #outruncancer

This blog was initially published on the Canada Bay Club website.