Time to step out like heroes on our streets | From the Press Box with Melanie Whelan

HEROES: Runners crossing the line in last year's Run Ballarat achieve a great feat personally and collectively as a community by getting out there and having a go. Picture: Kate Healy

HEROES: Runners crossing the line in last year's Run Ballarat achieve a great feat personally and collectively as a community by getting out there and having a go. Picture: Kate Healy

THERE is an incredibly satisfying feeling crossing the finish line.

In an event like Run Ballarat, the emphasis in on getting out there. You can be out on course with Ballarat’s best athletes walking or running the exact same route down Sturt Street and back up Mair Street with the exact same purpose: raising money for a revamped children’s ward at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital.

Individual goals do matter. Clocking a personal best, or trying a longer distance, or trying to kick off a healthier take on life can give an extra drive and motivation. It feels good knowing the training is paying off.

But when you set out and see the sea of people in Run t-shirts stretching out before you, it is special knowing your goals are part of a bigger movement.

The past week The Courier has been focusing on its inaugural Community Journalism Day, in line with other Fairfax Media regional teams across the state. Part of this has been spending time in forums listening to what matters most to you – our readers, our community.

Another part, for The Courier, has been reflecting on the stories where the community has really rallied and the story has taken on a life of its own – people helping people.

Run Ballarat is just this. Run Ballarat, entering its sixth edition, has consistently been about improving healthcare for sick children across the region.

As big a a city as Ballarat is growing, it still retains a strong community bond – almost all people have spent time in that outdated ward at the Base Hospital, or they know families who do. And Run Ballarat has become the city’s biggest community event.

We, as a community, have worked hard to change this predominantly with our feet. The past five years we have raised more than $920,000 for the children’s ward with a walk, run or roll in Run Ballarat.

PURPOSE: Run Ballarat ambassador Gorgi Coghlan and daughter Molly-Rose meet young patient Isabelle in the children's ward ahead of event day. Picture: Kate Healy.

PURPOSE: Run Ballarat ambassador Gorgi Coghlan and daughter Molly-Rose meet young patient Isabelle in the children's ward ahead of event day. Picture: Kate Healy.

Sport is an incredible tool in community support from fundraising and awareness campaigns. A great tool to make a change – and this goes for grassroots-up.

But sport is also about inspiration. 

There will be incredible individual stories crossing the finish line in the South Gardens on Sunday morning. For many, this will be an event they have trained to reach. For others, it is a chance to walk for fun with family or friends.

Ultimately, this event is getting people moving and, for a city with well-documented health needs to get moving, hopefully crossing the finish line is inspiration enough to keep going.

Sure, you could clock a lap of the lake any Sunday morning – and that is great, too – but there is something pretty special about getting out there at the same time and hitting the streets with hundreds of other people.

Cheersquads and music lining the course can make you feel like a real hero – and you should feel like a hero, no matter what your pace.

Crossing the finish line in such a huge community event makes a big, statement both personally and as a city.

PS: Press Box still champions for events like Run Ballarat to have a hero-like finish, on the big screen, before crowds at Mars Stadium.