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Rodney Cottam, Resimac’s regional sales manager for NSW, ACT, and Queensland, has completed his second Run Rocket Run long-distance challenge, after having spent the past five days (3–7 July) running from Coffs Harbour to the ANZAC Memorial in Sydney.
Over his gruelling trail run challenge, Mr Cottam — a military veteran who is paralysed in his left arm as a result of spinal nerve damage from a motorbike accident — covered 500km in just 106 hours, with the aim of raising awareness and funds for veteran charity Invictus Australia.
As well as hoping to raise $100,000 to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families, the ex-military man of the 3rd Battalion (Royal Australian Regiment), said he was promoting physical, mental, and emotional resilience through running, under his moniker Run Rocket Run.
Indeed, over the past few days, he has been running in three-hour blocks, even overnight, catching sleep for half an hour between blocks in his support vehicle before restarting again. He was covering around 100km a day, putting his body under immense strain.
To train for this run, Mr Cottam participated in several long-distance runs — including the Australian Alpine Ascent Trail Run, Noosa Ultra-Trail, and The Jabulani Challenge — with each race covering distances of between 45 and 100km.
Speaking to The Adviser following his run, Mr Cottam said the biggest challenge of running 500km in five days is the amount of stress it puts on the body, with less recovery time between the running slots having a flow-on effect on the body, particularly the legs (with Mr Cottam suffering from a suspected stress fracture in his ankle and water on the knees).
By day 4 (6 July), Mr Cottam said the physical and mental toll had almost overwhelmed him but added that the biggest motivator was “to keep thinking about the purpose of doing this”.
“When you’re in the military, you’ve got a purpose. In normal, civilian life, I needed something bigger than myself. By doing these sorts of things, it’s giving me a purpose and raising awareness of our veterans and Invictus Australia.”
Mr Cottam highlighted that he would not have been able to complete the run without the support he received from his crew (including his fiance, crew chief/physical therapist, and pacer runners, including Resimac’s Logan Hilton) — as well as messages of support that he received from those both within and outside of the industry — who “put him back in the right mindset to push him in the right direction”.
‘If anybody embodies the spirit of Invictus, it’s Rodney’ — Sir Peter Cosgrove
One such supporter was Sir Peter Cosgrove (governor general of Australia 2014–19 and chief of the Defence Force from 2002–05) — who is also Invictus Australia Patron general — who sent Mr Cottam a video message on Thursday evening to convey his support.
Sir Peter also met Mr Cottam at the finish line at ANZAC Memorial on Friday (7 July), where he said: “This is an incredible moment of celebration and relief; here’s the finish line, he’s arrived.”
The former governor general welcomed Mr Cottam’s acknowledgement of his support team, who helped “get this fella from the starting point to here”.
“It’s a team effort but there’s only one person doing all the running.
"As Patron of Invictus, I can say that what he’s doing is so emblematic of what we can encourage veterans — people who have been in the Defence Force — to deal with that part of their lives outside of the uniform, after the uniform.
“It’s not only uplifting, it is wholly, wholly beneficial to people who embrace the whole notion of seeing what you can further do. Even when your body is past its absolute peak of athletic accomplishment, there’s still so much more you can do. And [Rodney has] shown that in so many different ways, not least on this last venture.”
Sir Peter continued: “Rod’s battalion was the 3rd Battalion in the Royal Australian Regiment and their name is ‘Old Faithful’. And I think [Rodney has] — every step of the way — shown [his] faith in the whole notion that the service you give is repaid to you in the feelings you get; in the way you feel about your nation, your colleagues, your mates, and — indeed — the way in which Australians look after each other.
“If anybody embodies the spirit of Invictus, which you know means ‘unconquered’ then this man does. So we welcome your home and I say to you mate: You’re Invictus. Unconquered.”
You can donate to Run Rocket Run's fundraiser for Invictus Australia here.