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  • Megan Barrow

Six Marathons in six days - Corey McKernan's challenge to support Melburnians in lockdown

"With a lot of hard work, commitment and preparation, you can do anything." ~Corey McKernan

Over six days, Saturday 5 June to Thursday 10 June 2021, former AFL MVP & dual premiership player with North Melbourne, Corey McKernan, walked six marathons.

Why? Corey founded Walk With Me Online to provide resources that build momentum, connection and development that help people thrive through adversity during Australia's Covid-19 lockdowns in May 2020. When Melbourne found itself in its fourth lockdown within 12 months in late May 2021 and extended from seven to 14 days, Corey wanted to do something tangible to show Melburnians that they can not only get through challenging times, but thrive through them. Read full media release.

Corey's 252kms saw him cover on foot: Sydney to Banagaroo, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay to flying to the Sunshine Coast and walking home from Maroochydore Airport to Mudjimba. Along the Sunshine Coast over the next five days he walked to Noosa, Twin Waters, Marcoola, Coolum, Point Arkwright, Perigan Beach, Mooloolaba, Kawana, Cotton Tree, Alexander Headland, Minyama. He also discovered many trails and tracks he'd never seen before (usually driving these distances).

Corey's lessons after completing his marathon challenge

"Completing the six marathons was the closest thing to the feelings after playing (an AFL) game both mentally and physically."

Accountability: Similar to his AFL career, Corey was reminded of how accountability to a large group of people made a difference to the completion of the task.

He said to the participants on the Walk With Me Online live walk over Zoom:

"If I'd only told a few people, I may have given up after a few days. But being accountable to all of you and all the people reading the challenge updates on social media, I knew I had to keep going. Like playing in AFL, the people you're accountable to don't care for excuses; they don't care if you're tired or sick, they want you to find a way to do what you said you'd do."

Take things day by day: Corey managed the daunting challenge by breaking the days and each marathon down to sections and moments. It was important for him to not focus on how many days or kilometres there were to go.

"Each day I'd wake up and prepare for the day -- have my coffee, stretch, sort out the snacks and water to take, work out what podcasts and audio books I'd listen to. I'd also set myself little challenges, e.g. quicken my walking pace for the next 30 mins. This gave me little wins along the way."

Preparation: If you've been on any of the live walks, you'll know Corey talks a lot about the importance of preparation. Every day during the challenge he focused on how he could best prepare to not only get through that day's 42kms, but the next day's marathon. He made sure to focus and implement all the little things to ensure he had the best chance of achieving the goal: Stretching, recovery, (cold) pool and ocean sessions, massages, good meals, reduced alcohol, and good sleeps and rest.

"It was interesting to observe that with all my preparation, I actually got better every day and pulled up amazingly well from the challenge overall."

Corey's overall message:

With genuine hard work and commitment to the task, what you want to achieve pays off.

You can watch Corey discuss these lessons and take-aways in the below video...

Recapping Corey's marathon six day journey

Day 1: 42 kms walked

Corey was in Sydney for work and set out for his first 12kms with the goal of watching a brilliant sunrise around Sydney Harbour. He listened to Russell Brand's podcast, took pictures "like a tourist" and warned his wife she was going for a walk when he got home!

To get the kilometres up for the day, he then walked home "The Castle" style from Maroochydore Aiport to Mudjimba. Australian Cricket legend, Merv Hughes, joked on social media he should've grabbed a trolley!

His family then joined him for a walk to Mount Coolum, with his youngest daughter leading the way!

Corey then completed the remaining 20kms and wrapped it up with a video for his followers on Walk With Me Online.

Day 2 - 84 kms accumulated walk total

On day 2 Corey walked from Mudjimba to Noosa. He listened to Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson and enjoyed the stunning views and discovering new trails he misses when driving the destination.

"Solid walk to say the least, but with views like this?? 😎" He posted on Instagram and Facebook. "Don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see the Noosa boardwalk.... nearly 40km down. The final 2 can wait until later today!🤬😜😎"

After completing 84kms in two days, Corey's legs were "very sore" and he made sure he recovered later that afternoon with stretching and time in the pool.

Day 3 - 126kms accumulated walk total

Another early morning start and Corey shared some beautiful shots of his walk before sunrise and listened to Dr Joe Dispenza's "Impact Theory".

Corey finished the day with another video for his followers...

Day 4 - 168kms accumulated walk total

"You would be shocked at how good I feel from a few days of hard training/ recovery and no alcohol. There might be something in this!"

Corey started day four at 3:45am and woke up feeling "surprisingly good". He had the beginnings of a sore throat the day before, but upped his daily turmeric dose to "smash it in its tracks".

He talked online about his recovery routine each day and how he's been eating all the right foods and consuming minimal alcohol.

He also discussed using the marathon time wisely, today listening to David Goggins audio book "Can't Hurt Me" audiobook and the latest NFL updates for the upcoming video interview later this month with some Aussies punters living their dream in the US.

As he posted: His size 14 Nike's have taken a hit! We bet they had!

Scroll to the video after below image - Corey was not liking Scott from SD Performance! But he thanked him the next day!

And Corey's wrap up of the day's marathon with special guest Madison!

Day 5 - 210kms accumated walk total

This morning Corey drove to Kawana for some variety of scenary. He broke up the kilometres with a big portion completed in the morning, leaving 10-12kms to walk later that night.

He also enjoyed online company at 7am with the Zoom walk. It was great to also see a number of new people join to hear a live update of the challenge.

"When you have gone on a massive walk, to have the Walk With Me Online crew at 7am was brilliant!" he later posted online.

He also acknowledged Peter Grant from RPM Real Estate for talking about how his business has handled the Melbourne lockdown and what they’re doing to support their employees. Also a regular walk participant shared how Corey had encouraged her to increase her walking kms and discover new areas of her nearby suburbs.

Corey also loved giving a "nod" to the Steve Irwin statue, one he runs/walks past a lot. "I love this statue with him and his two kids, his love for his family and for our great country was profound."

Day 6 - final day and 252kms accumulated walk total

For the final marathon, Corey started at 5am. It was 5 degrees and he was rugged up and "ready to eat this!".

He shared this video...

After a super fresh morning, he enjoyed watching the sunrise for a stunning morning as he headed 17kms to Perigan Beach and then back to finish the challenge in Maroochydore.

He also listened to former Essendon player and Melbourne Coach, the great Neale Daniher who stares adversity in the face to Fight MND and says (MND) you're not getting me - 'play on'. Talk about perspective!

And then, like that... "Stick a fork in me, I’m done Turkish!". Corey posted how he was in another zone to complete the last hour and actually ran the final kms.

But he wasn't quite done yet! There was a press conference to do before he could officially sit down and relax...

Thanks 7 News Sunshine Coast for this great piece that aired that night highlighting Corey's challenge and the Walk With Me Online message.

Special thanks...

On behalf of Corey, Walk With Me Online would like to acknowledge our Partners (National Make Good Solutions, GMS Staffing & Oz Equipment Rentals) who help support all the behind-the-scenes work and without whom we wouldn't be able to do what we do.

We'd also like to thank Scott and Kisten at SD Performance Training for keeping Corey going, and Werribee Mitsubishi and RPM Real Estate for their encouragement during this challenge.

And thanks to everyone who supported Corey on social media and with private messages. Your words kept him focused on the task at hand, and we hope you used his incredible feat to challenge yourself and that you continue to do so.

If you're note already signed up to Walk With Me Online, you can do so here. And follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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