With the fog still clearing at the Kingston Foreshore on Thursday, Matt Breen got a wonderful surprise as he finished his morning run.
His mates and fellow participants in the community running group he started - Running for Resilience - had secretly organised with the ACT government to have one of the foreshore's landmarks renamed Arc de Resilience.
The large steel structure through which the runners always start and end their outings was named in honour of Running for Resilience, but also for Matt's parents,who have both passed away.
His mates revealed their surprise at the end of their run on Thursday as R U OK? Day 2021 was just getting underway in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown.
The Dock co-owners Ben Alexander and Glen "Shooter" Collins came up with the idea to thank Matt for starting Running for Resilience, adding to the sense of community within the Kingston Foreshore.
As many as 120 runners joined the twice-weekly runs but that number was reduced to just five on Thursday to start within the lockdown restrictions.
"He's just done so much for the Running for Resilience community. It's helped me massively, it's helped so many people get through tough times," Ben said.
"The runners have joked and called it Arc de Resilience and Shooter had the idea of, 'Why don't we try and get it officially named?' And one thing led after another.
"We just can't thank the Chief Minister enough for approving it."
The surprise was revealed on R U OK? Day which encourages everyone to check in on those around them and start a conversation that could be life-changing - and life-saving.
In 2010, Matt lost his father to suicide. Losing his father taught him to focus on the positives in life but it also brought a sense of guilt, that maybe he hadn't asked his father often enough, "Are you OK?"
In early 2019, Matt's mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The thought of losing another parent was enough to resurface feelings from his father that Matt just could not shake, so he founded Running For Resilience.
The goal was to bring together the community every Wednesday evening or Friday morning for a 6km run (or 3km walk), and to catch up after.
Ben said after the 6pm run, the participants went for a free beer at The Dock while after the 6am run, they went for a coffee together.
"We stay, 'Come for the run, stay for the beer'," he said, with a laugh.
Matt's mother was able to visit and witness Running For Resilience a handful of times before sadly losing her battle to cancer early this year.
Matt, 29, was moved by the heartfelt gesture.
"I'm very humbled. It's just awesome," he said.
"[The Arc] has become quite symbolic. We run out of it because we don't want to cut the corner and run into anyone.
"But, yeah, we meet here and it's just humbling. But a lot of people have contributed to what [Running for Resilience] is today. And this is a bit of a checkpoint, a bit of a milestone."
Matt said Running for Resilience had been inspired by his parents' struggles but it was meant be a physical and mental salve for anyone who needed it.
"It's designed to help others get through their struggle and come out the other side stronger and better for it," he said.
"It's become such a community. It was part of the plan but I've been blown away by how much of a community it's become, partly in thanks to The Dock and Benny and Shooter, because they've really given us a real footing to launch from because The Dock already has a great community. And then it's just snowballed from there. It's been awesome to be a part of."
The runs were a pick-me-up mentally as well as physically.
"I think just that 30 minutes of thinking time but in that positive state, with those endorphins flowing, that certainly helps," Matt said.
"Then the added side of community. You're just talking to people and you're not necessarily talking about your struggles. I think the people who come here accept each other because they've all been through a similar thing.
"It physically helps you but it also acts like a metaphorical way of cleaning out your brain. And, yeah, it works really well."
Matt said he had been doing well in lockdown, still able to work from home and enjoying more time with his partner Helen and their eight-month-old son Jimmy.
"You probably look forward to the little things. A run could be part of that. A sunset. Just something to keep the ball running so you have an opportunity to feel better," he said.
"I've got nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for."
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