When Sam Higham took on the Melbourne Marathon in 2022, running the half marathon was his first attempt at the event. He wasn't sure how he would go, but the experience was so profound that it changed him, and he’s back again in 2023 with bigger goals than before. His story – and his unique fundraising techniques – are encouraging for anyone who’s new to marathons, fun runs and fundraising.
What inspired you to support Berry Street?
In 2022, I saw in a Facebook post that Berry Street was looking for runners to represent them in the Melbourne Marathon. I was very sporadic with my fitness at the time, yet knew I wanted to run the marathon and do it for a charity. I wasn't sure which charity I wanted to represent, so when I saw this, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to contribute.
I also believed that it was important to represent a cause with which I didn't necessarily share a strong personal experience. In the case of Berry Street, I felt it was important to start the conversation about family violence and the welfare of families and children with my friends, colleagues and associates; not because this was their experience, but precisely because it was not.
Creating greater awareness of family violence amongst groups that haven’t experienced it allows for the cause to be better championed by fundraisers.
What were the highlights – and the hardest aspects – of the marathon last year?
The event was amazing. I admit now that I hadn't trained very well trained for the event and was quite stressed beforehand. But it was incredible to go through these mental and physical thresholds, kilometre by kilometre, and feel what it was like to continually push myself further than I ever thought possible. There was also a point of pure endorphin euphoria around the 17km mark. It was quite interesting.
The hardest part of the marathon was around the 19 km mark, when the pain and the exhaustion became all encompassing. My threshold had been reached. It was a strange mix of extreme pain and ecstasy, but still managed to finish.
It felt so profound. Knowing that I could run that far and reach the kind of goal I'd never reached before, something I’d never thought possible. I became aware of what I could do. From there I committed to run the full marathon in 2023, and train and fundraise even more this year.
You raised a fantastic $571 in 2022. What was the most effective way to raise these funds?
The most effective way I found was quite eccentric to be honest. I offered free haiku poems to those who made a contribution to my fundraising page. Naturally, this meant I had to send messages to people directly, asking if they were happy to make a contribution. They all got a haiku, which was I'm sure a bit unusual for them. But that's exactly why it worked. Maybe I'll offer a free AI generated song for them this year!
This year, I’m trying some other techniques. I work in marketing, so I've got a few tricks up my sleeve. I'm going to make a few reels and posts for my social profiles, which is a good way to raise funds – and awareness.
The truth is, I've always found the best way to raise funds is to be direct and use either a direct tool like messaging, whether that's on LinkedIn and Facebook, or classic emailing.
The most important thing is: Be sincere. Don't ask for much. Always let people know that it's ok to not feel obliged or compelled to contribute.
Sam wrote a haiku for all our 2023 Melbourne Marathon runners!
Funds must be raised;
Painful thigh chaffing the price paid.
Although the Melbourne Marathon is selling out in record time, there are still spaces for the 5km and 10km runs. If you’ve ever thought about stretching yourself, why not sign up and see what you can achieve!