Journey of a lifetime for Lifeline

Great job: Stratford local Chris Dixon completed a charity run from the MCG to his hometown of Stratford recently, raising what is believed to be a record amount for Lifeline Gippsland. Flanking Dixon after his magnificent feat is Lifeline Gippsland chief executive Michelle Possingham and event organiser Paul Nichols.



AN event that will be talked about in years to come was one for the history books on Saturday, June 3 when Chris Dixon completed a run from the MCG to Stratford Football-Netball Club.

Dixon ran a total of just over 240 kilometres as part of the Swans’ mental health and wellness round, raising money for Lifeline Gippsland.

The run started on Thursday, June 1. As rain hit the windscreen on the way to the MCG, conditions weren’t looking ideal for the first leg of the journey, a lengthy 100km run to Drouin.

Luckily, as Chris and this writer arrived at the ‘G at 5.30am, the rain had passed and there was a feeling of both nervousness and excitement on what was to come as they walked towards the meeting point, where Chris would be joined with some fellow running friends to support him in the initial kilometres.

The route to Drouin utilised a number of bike and running trails in order to steer clear of highways and major roads, adding kilometres to the journey but ensuring the safety of the runner.

Departing at 5.50am, Chris let out a final ‘yeewww’ as he ran past.

Arriving in Drouin at 4.30pm, Chris was in great spirits and showed how fit he was, not looking out of breath after finishing a 100km run, averaging 5 minutes, 14 seconds per kilometre.

Greeted by his wife and representatives of Drouin Football-Netball Club, Chris was generously taken to his host for the evening before attending the team selection and dinner at the Hawks’ social rooms.

The club was very welcoming, and generous in donating $786 as they listened with intent to the reasons of why this round meant so much to the Stratford FNC.

A video review from Day 1 was sent back to the Stratford FNC, with a standing ovation a clear indicator of what this effort meant to the wider community.

After a disrupted sleep, Chris’ goal for Day 2 was to be able to finish the second leg and be able to rest for what would be leg number three.

Leaving Drouin at 6am, Chris was pleasantly surprised to see running friends of his make it down from Melbourne to help him in the initial kilometres of what would be a challenging leg. Arriving into Traralgon ahead of schedule, injury free but with heavy legs, rest, recovery and food was the aim for the evening, before what would be a tough and most difficult final leg.

Before the sun rose on Saturday, the final leg had begun.

Making the most of the Gippsland Plains rail trail, Chris began the run in Traralgon inspired by the donations that had been received from the wider community, the traction that the run had received and the events of the day ahead of him.

At 55km into the final leg and just outside Maffra was when the realisation that the final leg had been miscalculated and would be closer to 70km rather than 60km occurred.

Coincidently, this is when the hurt started to creep in, with Chris’ knee seizing. With determination, a quick stretch and a cheeky 15-minute power nap under a bush on the side of the road, Chris was well on his way once again.

The message of the run and fundraising efforts for Lifeline Gippsland had spread far and wide, to the point where Chris was stopped by followers asking for photos and handing over money as he continued his run.

The final 15km were buoyed by the knowledge that the original fundraising goal of $10,000 had already been met, equating to funding one $39 call for Lifeline per kilometre ran.

While the final leg of the run was happening, the crowd was building at Stratford Recreation Reserve as Stratford took on Boisdale-Briagolong in the Battle of the Avon in East Gippsland football. Football and netball somewhat overshadowed by the importance and significance of what the day meant.

With the reserves game finishing, and the seniors due to begin at 2.30pm, Chris’s arrival to the ground was met by Stratford junior and football Auskickers for the final lap of the oval.

Horns were heard, cheers and claps deafening as Chris ran through a guard of honour formed by supporters, Stratford and Boisdale-Briagolong footballers and netballers.

The entirety of the crowd amazed at what they had just witnessed, what they had been following for the last three days – a 242km run in aid of mental and emotional wellness for Lifeline Gippsland.

Event organiser Paul Nichols was surrounded by players, as they formed a U shape facing towards the crowd, while he spoke about the round, acknowledging the remarkable achievements of Chris, and the reasons of why this was so special

“Chris, you’ve put yourself through physical and mental anguish for the better of others. You’ve inspired conversations that people were previously scared to have. On behalf of everyone here today, we thank you and are in awe of what you’re willing to do to break the stigma of mental health battles. raising awareness and funds for Lifeline Gippsland,” Nichols said.

“This club and our wider community have felt first-hand the devastating impact that mental health struggles can have.

“Today, we gather as a community to remember those who have lost their battle, to help reduce the stigma around mental illness in our community and to show our love and support to members of our community who may be struggling.

“We battle against each other on the field and the court, but our emotional and mental wellness knows no jumpers or dresses, no team colours, and no opponents.”

It was a huge success, the run, the fundraising, the event.

From a fundraising point of view, at publishing of this story, the efforts of the Stratford FNC had raised $20,730.

Speaking with Lifeline Gippsland’s chief executive, Michelle Possingham, she said this was one of the largest amount ever fundraised for Lifeline in their history, dating back to 1968.

“We are immensely grateful for Chris’s commitment to raising awareness of mental health, breaking down stigma and raising vital funds for the service we provide,” Ms Possingham said.

“It has been a privilege to follow Chris on his journey as he undertook this extraordinary feat.

” Lifeline Gippsland relies on the generosity of our community to keep providing the 13 11 14 crisis phone line, and it was really special to see our community come together to support Chris’s run.”

“The funds raised will enable Lifeline Gippsland to respond to over 500 potentially life-saving calls.”

“The ‘Battle of the Avon’ Mental Health round between Stratford Football-Netball Club and Boisdale-Briagolong FNC creates important conversations about mental health, helping to break down barriers for those who need to seek help.”

You can still donate via, or visit the Stratford FNC page for more details.

Incredible: Chris Dixon during the second leg of his run from the MCG to Stratford.
Photographs supplied