DRIVING FORCE: Brett Brooks is doing the half marathon at the Rocky River Run for the first time this year. He is inspired by his sister Jodie, who has motor neurone disease.
DRIVING FORCE: Brett Brooks is doing the half marathon at the Rocky River Run for the first time this year. He is inspired by his sister Jodie, who has motor neurone disease. Allan Reinikka ROK100518arunner2

Devastating diagnosis prompts Rocky man's marathon change

RUNNING: Brett Brooks knows the going could get tough when he competes in his first half marathon at this month's 7 Rocky River Run.

If it does, he will think of his sister Jodie, the loving mother of two young children whose body is being ravaged by motor neurone disease.

She is Brett's inspiration, her daily battle his biggest motivation.

"I think the discomfort I will go through doing a run of this distance is nothing compared to what she's going through every day,” he said.

"She is constantly in pain as her muscles deteriorate; she's suffering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when she's lying in bed.

"She was always a really active person and she's just being broken down by this horrible disease.

"She is the biggest driving force I've got.

"She's 37, has two young children and is having to face her mortality.

"In the scheme of things, that pushes all the discomfort I have into a smaller space where it doesn't really mean anything.”

Brett Brooks is preparing to run his first half marathon.
Brett Brooks is preparing to run his first half marathon. Allan Reinikka ROK100518arunner4

Brett said he was "nervous and excited” about taking on the 21km race.

"I've never done any distance like that before,” he said.

"I competed in the 5km Rocky River Run last year and then I did the 10km event at the Yeppoon Running Festival later that year.

"I wanted to do the 21km this year just to step it up a bit.

"I'm not overly competitive; I'm just in it to get it done and experience it.

"I really have no idea what a decent time is for that distance. When I run 10km I get it done in 45, 50 minutes so to go under two hours would be good.”

Brett has not ramped up his running training, continuing to just do his daily crossfit workouts at VidaFit Rockhampton.

"I'm hoping that my fitness at the level I'm at now and my mental strength is going to be enough to push me through and get me there,” he said.

"Some of my friends have told me I'm a little bit crazy for doing it but I just think I'll give it and go and see what happens.”

Brett knows that four years ago he would never have contemplated doing a half marathon, or any physical challenge in fact.

Brett Brooks before he lost 30kg.
Brett Brooks before he lost 30kg. CONTRIBUTED

The then 35-year-old weighed 102kg and would get breathless playing in the yard with his nieces and nephews.

Then came Jodie's devastating diagnosis. It was a wake-up call for Brett and prompted some dramatic changes in his life.

"It made me really look at myself and see where I was in life,” he said.

"It made me realise there are no guarantees and I should be out there living my life to the fullest.”

A friend who had lost quite a lot of weight told Brett about the overhaul program at VidaFit.

Brett signed up and, after doing two of the eight-week blocks, lost 30kg.

"Before that, I had never exercised, never played any sport,” he said.

"I had no weight loss goal when I started; it was more just about getting fit.

"I didn't want to be a 40-year-old man with a heart condition.”

More than 1700 people have already registered for the 7 Rocky River Run on Sunday, May 27.
More than 1700 people have already registered for the 7 Rocky River Run on Sunday, May 27. Sharyn O'Neill ROK050616srun10

Around the same time, Brett also made the decision to quit his existing job and realise his dream of starting his own business, an IT firm called Little Brown Monkey.

His personal success in the overhaul program prompted him to complete a Level 1 crossfit course.

He then became a mentor for the program and is now a coach for it and VidaFit's Ageless Active Group.

Brett appreciates that taking that first step changed his life completely.

"I just have so much more energy. I have a much clearer mind, my thinking is sharper, and it's really built my confidence.

"It's given me a real push to get out there and experience everything in life that I can.

"It's still mind-boggling to think I'm about to run a half marathon but I just can't wait to get to the start line and give it my best.”



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