7 Days, 7 Cities: The Upton Duo’s Marathon Crusade for Child Safety

By Adam Lacey

In the brisk air of an early Gold Coast morning, I sit across from Brian Upton at a quiet café, the sounds of the bustling street a stark contrast to the solemn topic of our discussion. Brian, alongside his son Mark, is gearing up for his second consecutive year in the Bravehearts 777 Marathon — a grueling week-long event that challenges participants to run marathons in seven Australian cities over seven consecutive days. The cause? To raise awareness and support for Bravehearts, a leading child protection charity in Australia.

Brian, a seasoned runner whose determination is only matched by his compassion, shares why he’s returning to the marathon. “When we completed the Bravehearts 777 last year, we knew we had to continue. The need to spread awareness about protecting children against sexual abuse is immense,” Brian begins, his voice firm with resolve. “Deciding to participate again meant we had another year to support and educate people about the protection Bravehearts provides.”

As a father and grandfather, Brian’s connection to the cause runs deep. His training regime reflects his commitment. “As we age, it’s crucial to increase the workload in strength training,” he explains. He and Mark have intensified their training, incorporating heavy weights, kettlebell workouts, and core exercises nearly every day of the week. This physical preparation not only readies them for the physical demands of the marathons but also symbolizes the enduring fight against child abuse — relentless and unwavering.

Participating in the event isn’t just about physical endurance but also emotional resilience. Brian reflects on the camaraderie and mutual support among the runners. “It’s not about individual triumphs,” he states. “It’s about supporting each other, getting through each day together. Winning is about pursuing excellence within ourselves and what we do with it.” The event’s format, which allows participants in each state to choose from various distances, helps maximize involvement and awareness, bringing communities together for a common cause.

The emotional peak of Brian’s journey was seeing his grandchildren participate in parts of the Sydney and Canberra marathons. “Having my grandchildren there was incredibly emotional, especially given the cause we were supporting,” he shares, his voice tinged with emotion. This personal involvement underscores the family’s deep commitment to the Bravehearts mission.

Training challenges have been minimal, Brian notes, mostly affected by occasional adverse weather. To keep their edge, he and Mark also participate in official long-distance runs, integrating them into their regimen.

The stakes are high, and the goals are clear. “Our goal this year is to raise a minimum of $40,000 for Bravehearts,” Brian reveals. The urgency of their mission is propelled by harrowing statistics: more than one in three girls and one in five boys experience sexual abuse in Australia, with the majority of these crimes committed by someone known to the child.

Brian’s message is potent and clear as he outlines the critical work done by Bravehearts. “More than 51% of abused children are aged between 0 to 8 years. These aren’t just numbers; they’re devastating realities that families face,” he explains. Through their participation in the Bravehearts 777, Brian and Mark aim to foster a world where communities and systems work in unison to protect children from sexual abuse.

As our interview concludes, Brian’s determination is palpable. His and Mark’s journey is more than a test of physical endurance; it is a testament to their commitment to advocating for the most vulnerable in society. Through their sweat and strides, they champion a cause that seeks to shield innocence and foster safety, making each step a stride towards a safer future for children across Australia.

As the community gears up to support them from July 1 to July 7, 2024, Brian and Mark Upton are not just preparing for a marathon; they are leading a crusade of awareness and change, one run at a time.



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