The Australian sisters are running to raise mental health awareness, inspire others to take up exercise to manage mental illness and fundraise for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and Mind Australia. Ironically, it was during a run that Jennalea asked her sister to join her on an adventure of a lifetime.
Run a country with me?
Jennalea has run for charities before, doing challenges such as 30km a day for 30 days for breast cancer. But this time, the focus is on mental health as the sisters have experience of depression.
“I did go through a dark period in my life, and running was the only thing that brought me inklings of joy,” Jennalea says.
Her experience helped Rachael when she too hit a rough patch.
“Once I started moving, and getting more fresh air, my thoughts seemed a little clearer, I was still suffering mentally but there was now a pathway in sight,” Rachael says.
Share how you are feeling with someone you trust, try not to bottle it up, it’s okay to feel depressed, she says. Writing a list of small daily goals to achieve really helped Rachael through and together with the exercise she noticed a real change in her thought patterns.
Inspiring more sister duos
Jennalea and Rachael are already inspiring Kiwis to join them, like another set of sisters Luisa and Pesi Feki who studied with Rachael at the Australian Institute of Fitness.
Pesi and Luisa live in Australia now, but have not forgotten their roots. They want to use Run4Mind to raise awareness and encourage open mental health conversations in Pacific communities. When Pesi was 10 and Luisa five, their cousin committed suicide.
“When you lose someone close, it is heart-breaking… Understanding later on just how avoidable this was, made us feel compelled to do something about this issue,” Luisa says.
Luisa and Pesi plan to run 1000km collectively during Run4Mind, while also acting as drivers/support crew for Jennalea and Rachael.