A run to help keep the Anzac spirit alive

15 Apr, 2014 04:00 AM
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Organiser Paul Ritchie says the run will promote the Anzac spirit.
Organiser Paul Ritchie says the run will promote the Anzac spirit.

The words ''Anzac'' and ''fun run'' are an unusual blend, but Paul Ritchie is emphatic about the appropriateness of the inaugural Anzac Run.

''Maybe it's a wacky idea,'' says the former MFB firefighter, who is organising the run to raise money for war veterans and their families. ''But it's a means to bring everyone together as a community to acknowledge our Anzac spirit leading up to Anzac Day and an opportunity to thank our servicemen and women.''

Mr Ritchie has put 15 months of his time and thousands of dollars of his own money into organising it.

He sees fun runs - although the word ''fun'' isn't used in the event brochures - as a modern way of expressing support for a cause.

A fitness fanatic who has organised charity runs from Gallipoli to London (for war veterans) and from Los Angeles to New York (for September 11, 2001, firefighters), he reckons the physical exertion, struggle and sacrifice of running fits well with tributes to our defence force.

Mr Ritchie has the endorsement of Victorian Anzac Centenary Committee chairman Ted Baillieu, and crucially, the RSL, whose state president, Major-General David McLachlan urged the public to take part.

Major-General McLachlan said: ''It might be unusual to have a run for Anzac Day but we have fun runs for all sorts of other charity and welfare organisations.''

The 11-kilometre run on April 21 starts near the corner of Domain and St Kilda roads, at the Cobbers statue - of a Digger carrying a wounded mate to commemorate the 5533 Australian casualties at the WWI Battle of Fromelles.

Runners then go down St Kilda Road to Anzac Avenue, around the Tan track twice, and across Morrell Bridge to finish at Gosch's Paddock, where WWI soldiers once camped.

One of them could have been Mr Ritchie's grandfather, Alex Ritchie, who fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. Alex's son, Paul's uncle David Ritchie, served in World War II. Proceeds from the run go to the RSL, Legacy and Stand Tall for PTS, a charity that helps sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Paul Ritchie wants the run to educate new generations about past wars and flag support for younger veterans, particularly the psychologically scarred. ''It's a small way we can help them recover.''

He said veterans from modern conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq will be present.

''I think they've done an unbelievable job and it seems to go unnoticed.''

Anzac Run, April 21, 8am, entry $55/$40, $35. To register, go to anzacrun.com

SMH

COMMENTS

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Rob. As Bill says, what you do with your time and resources is YOUR choice and no one else's to
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Yes wtf, the Liberals will set up the merchants to gouge the grower even further.
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The effect of the live export suspension (not ban) is grossly overstated. The Indonesians