RUNNER Mike Silcock's mindset has shifted the past month or so as he prepares to face one of the world's most famous marathons for what started as an acutely personal mission.
Mike set out training for the New York City Marathon almost 12 months ago to represent MND Victoria. His mission was, and remains, to raise awareness and funds in tribute to his godfather who died with motor-nurone disease six years ago.
But when The Courier first checked in on Mike's progress in March, he was nervous. He feared failure for letting all who believe in him down.
Now Mike is champing at the bit to get on course and let their belief fuel his race in its toughest moments - and he knows there will be gruelling times.
"There is the weight of expectations, but in a good way," Mike said.
"When I started and people were donating and telling their stories I thought 'I cannot fail them'. But now, these stories are my inspiration when it gets tough and there will be tough moments, no matter how much I love New York and the magic of running though the city's five boroughs.
"Everybody who's donated money and their stories, that's really special."
These stories are my inspiration when it gets tough and there will be tough moments, no matter how much I love New York.Mike Silcock
Sunday marked one month until race day and a decade since Mike's sole marathon effort in Melbourne.
A decade ago, Mike's marathon mission was about health and losing weight. The former English schoolboys rugby player had a high-level rugby career ended by a broken neck. In the years that followed, Mike had piled on the weight.
Running turned his life about but the St Patrick's College boarding director never planned to go that distance again until approached by MND Victoria.
This time, he has felt a whole community behind him.
Mike raised more than $4000 in his first six weeks' call-out. He will arrive in New York at least close to his $10,000 goal. The wider St Pats community and his boarders have been instrumental in this as has Australian Rules development program Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Super Rugby club Melbourne Rebels.
But Mike said personal messages of support and acts of kindness have made a big impact on his campaign.
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Newington physiotherapist Charlie Flynn donated a weekly session to ease out niggles and maintain Mike's body to ensure he has not missed a training run.
The Running Company Ballarat's Julian Spence has been checking in on Mike's progress since Mike first walked into the shop back in February, keen for a little advice. Spence, who ran the marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Doha on Sunday, spent three hours in that initial meeting helping Mike with a sound training schedule, tweaking his running technique and talking nutrition.
"Ballarat has such a community feel about running," Mike said. "You just have to look at the success of ParkRun and Run For A Cause."
Championing motor-neuron disease is a life-long commitment for Mike. While there is no cure, Silcock is passionate about supporting people living with the condition that attacks controlling muscles to speech, breathing, swallowing and movement.
Until his godfather was diagnosed, Mike had little-to-no idea about MND. He said the incredible efforts of AFL identity Neale Daniher had been amazing in drawing a public spotlight to it. The New York City Marathon has become part of Mike's MND journey.
Already he was considering his next running chapter. It might not be a marathon, but Mike plans to keep supporting others with each step he takes. This could be taking part in Connor's Run to support a young boarder whose family has been affected by childhood brain cancer. Or, next month's Run For A Cause - Mike plans to run Ballarat's new half-marathon - to boost early childhood education.
Follow, support Mike's journey via his Facebook page: Mike Silcock MND Victoria/2019 NY Marathon.
New York City Marathon is on November 3.
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