Kelly-Mansell’s gruelling ride delivers a positive message

March 05, 2018

Rulla Kelly-Mansell (centre) pictured with Andrew Walker and Liam Guinan is doing a charity bike-paddleboard event around Tassie, then boating to Vic, riding to Barmah then paddleboarding back to raise awarness for a charity Make Runs For Maxi about depression.

IT’S quiet.

The sounds of the river and the wind in the trees are all you can hear.

All around you is peaceful.

It’s an amazing way to clear your mind.

Just ask Rulla Kelly-Mansell.

‘‘Being around nature like this is something that I find is great for my positive mental health,’’ he said.

Positive mental health is something Kelly-Mansell feels incredibly strongly about.

The Tasmanian, who previously lived in Echuca, was in town across the latter part of last week as part of an event for his charity, Make Runs Maxi.

‘‘I spent a few years in Echuca, during a pretty difficult time in my life, so I wanted to be able to draw a line between Tasmania and Echuca and this is how I’m doing it,’’ he said.

That line was drawn by riding a bike around both Tasmania and Victoria, a total of 386km on the bike.

A planned 35km paddleboard from Barmah back to Echuca was to finish the event, though it turned out to be closer to 50km.

Kelly-Mansell, with help from close friends Liam ‘Rabb’ Guinan and Andrew Walker, wanted to make the event about far more than just the physical journey.

‘‘I didn’t just want to do the ride, so with the work Rabb has been doing with SUP paddleboarding, I thought that would be a great thing to add.’’ Kelly-Mansell said.

‘‘The paddleboarding is a great grounding tool. It makes you feel good, which also helps your mental health which again is what we are looking for.’’

Kelly-Mansell said the journey was more intense than he expected.

‘‘We probably didn’t train or prepare as much,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve noticed over the last few days that it’s probably more difficult than I expected,’’ he laughed.

The charity is named after a junior athlete Kelly-Mansell coached before his death last year.

The charity promotes positive social and emotional health, promoting a sense of purpose while aiming to decrease suicide, anxiety and other negative consequences of mental health issues.

‘‘I formed the organisation on the back of my own personal experiences, so I started giving talks on the subject,’’ Kelly-Mansell said.

‘‘About a month into my talks we lost Maxi, who was a 16-year-old from my home town. The name of the charity is a tribute to him and his family.’’

Kelly-Mansell, who also plays football in the Tasmanian State League for Launceston Football Club, says he has taken great pride in his speaking over the past 12 months.

‘‘Even though I put myself out there, I’m actually pretty private with my life, so talking about the things I do in my speeches is a bit nerve racking,’’ he said.

‘‘But when people come up and tell you — or you get a message from someone — about the impact it’s had on them, it’s very special. It pushes you to keep doing the work.’’

As Kelly-Mansell grows as a speaker, his way of delivering speeches has changed.

‘‘You start to find what is having an impact,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve found my talks are becoming a bit more interactive and getting people to open up, rather than just me talking about my experiences.’’

His sessions have taken him to many places, including back to St Joseph’s College on Friday to speak to 175 students.

Liam Guinan said he was proud just to be associated with his mate’s work.

‘‘Didn’t have to think about it at all,’’ he said.

‘‘The second Rulla called me, I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.’’

Walker shared the same sentiments.

‘‘I’m obviously really close with Rulla,’’ Walker said.

‘‘Being an Echuca boy, it’s something that we all wanted to get behind and be a part of.

‘‘He’s been a great support to me through a lot of things, so now I want to support him. That’s what brothers do.’’

The journey wrapped up on Saturday afternoon in Echuca.

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