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Fagan and friends stride out for suicide prevention awareness

Mansfield footballer and a group of mates are running more than 300km in Tasmania in a bid to raise money for suicide prevention.

DAMEN FRANCIS January 30, 2014 4:10am

Mansfield footballers Ben Fagan (second from right) and Tim Orchard (third from right) are running 300km from Burnie to Hobart to raise money for suicide prevention. Picture: Chris Kidd, The Mercury


Goulburn Valley Football League star Ben Fagan is taking the idea of a pre-season run to a whole new level.

The Tasmania-raised Mansfield footballer and a group of mates are running more than 300km from Burnie to Hobart in a bid to raise money for suicide prevention.

Fagan’s long-time friend Mitch McPherson founded not-for-profit group Speak Up Stay ChatTY in honour of his 18-year-old brother Ty, who committed suicide last year.

The week-long Tour de Tig — Ty’s nickname — is the group’s most ambitious project yet.

Fagan, 26, said raising awareness was just as important as funds.

‘‘It’s a taboo subject, people don’t like talking about it, so we’re trying to get people to, as the slogan says, speak up if you’ve got any problems and to ask people if they’re okay,’’ Fagan said.

‘‘We’ve had a lot of people come past and donate and give us their stories about what might have happened to them, so that’s been pretty rewarding, meeting people that really appreciate what we’re doing.’’

The seven runners — assisted by a five-strong support crew — run in shifts and each run up to 15km a day.

The journey began on Monday with the 100km leg from Burnie to Deloraine, with the team expected to reach Launceston last night.

From there it heads south, with the aim of reaching the state capital by Saturday night.

There are all sorts of charity events along the way to help spread the word and raise funds, including running onto Launceston’s York Park prior to a Ricky Ponting tribute Twenty20 cricket match tonight.

Fagan said Eagles coach Simon Dolling and president Quinten Thomson were aware of his commitment and hoped they showed some leniency when it comes to the club’s pre-season training camp the following weekend.

‘‘I’ve told the coach and the president, so I might have to have a lighter week on the track next week,’’ he said.

Among the other runners are Tim Orchard, who played a handful of games for the Eagles last season, and Rohan Swan, who Fagan is trying to coax to the club.

Fagan, a damaging midfield-utility, said he was looking forward to his fourth GVFL season and was confident the Eagles could improve on last season’s ninth-placed finish.

‘‘We’re pretty positive. Apart from losing Josh Fraser we’ve kept most of our list from last year,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve actually got a few younger guys that played the last five or six games last season and hopefully another season for them will make us stronger depth-wise and we can push for finals.’’

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