ACT News


Nicole Gillies' ultra marathon effort to help others get beyond the blues

Nicole Gillies was devastated when her father took his own life aged 50.

This year she has reached the same age and the keen runner has pledged to take on her first 50km ultramarathon attempt in Canberra in his memory.

"I'd approached my 50th birthday with a bit of trepidation so I'd like to make something positive out of the year and achieve something that I know if he was alive he would be proud of," she said.

After her birthday milestone in early February the Sydneysider will set up a sponsorship page to raise money for mental health service Beyond Blue.

"I was 20 years old when my father died, he was a pharmacist," she said. "There wasn't support networks back then. Nobody talked about depression, there wasn't the drugs available that there are today. Nobody talked about it, especially men."

She said her father's mental illness had a ripple effect on her and her sisters, who were left to process the hurt without counselling.


Through the charity run for beyondblue she hoped to draw attention to the wealth of support services available to help people through tough times.

"My sisters at times have suffered from depression here and there, and at times I have," she said.

"I am in a very good place at the moment, but I want to let people know that there is help if you are feeling down and to make use of those facilities.

"People don't have to suffer in silence. The sun will always come up another day, it might not feel like that today, you just have to have faith it will."

Ms Gillies has completed several marathons and recently competed in an Iron Woman event.

She has begun regular 30km training runs in the hope she can really perform come April.

"I want it to be an achievement for me this year, to race it, not just hobble it, and get a good time," she said.

What keeps her going step after step? The knowledge it is worth it to fight on. 

"You never regret a run. The only run you regret is the one you don't do."

Kilometre after kilometre her mind will tends to turn to memories of her father. 

"He passed on a love of running to me," she said.

"When it gets to the 30 kilometre mark and it gets hard, I think it is such a shame he didn't choose to live longer.

"There are so many good experiences, things that have happened over the almost 30 years since he took his life. There is a huge world out there to experience."

If you or someone you know needs help, contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 44 or Kid's HelpLine on 1800 55 1800.