Tuesday 14 April 2020


Pounding the Pavement in Isolation - All for a Good Cause

Report by: Sam Hunnisett

Steven Bell - Thinking outside the isolation box, running a marathon in support of RAB

Support Steven and Donate

One of my early memories as a child was sitting on the side of St Kilda Road, between the Arts Centre and the Concert Hall in Melbourne, waiting for my Dad to run up to the finish line of the Melbourne marathon. I remember how happy I was when I was able to pick him out in the crowd of runners, looking exhausted but happy to have the finish line in sight. Quite a few years ago now I made a commitment to Dad to run a marathon before I was 40....a commitment I did not manage to keep for no really good reason. Last year I also said I would complete a marathon within 2019, and was well on track two times until a couple of injuries stopped me in my tracks at late stages in the preparation. Shin splints hurt!

In 2020 I prepared far more slowly and carefully for this run, and after last weekend I reached to top point of my training for what will be my first (and probably only) marathon on April 19th. For the information of those of you who have never been silly enough to do this, the most intense week of running ends two weeks before race-day, followed by two weeks of blissfully short runs leading up to the day of the marathon. That is the phase in which I now find myself, and that is great, if not for the fact that I don’t have a marathon to run anymore! The O’Keefe Challenge near Bendigo which raises money for a local dementia facility has quite rightly now been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite fully supporting the lock-down rules here in Australia, there is also a degree of disappointment for me after all this training; training which is rather painful for someone who is not a natural, long-distance runner.

As such, I have decided to run my own isolation marathon to make use of all this training, and also try to raise a little money for Radiology Across Borders who are a wonderful organisation training doctors in developing nations in many aspects of radiology. I have plotted a course in the streets very close to my house where I can run this marathon while still adhering to all of the social distancing requirements, and all of the other sensible rules imposed by our government. In Australia we are a little lucky in that we are free to go out once a day for exercise, providing it is not with more than one person and that social distancing is maintained. To make my isolation marathon safer still, I have decided to set out before 0400 so I can complete most of the 42.195 km before most sane people are even thinking about coffee on a Sunday morning.  

To be honest, I have no idea how much money could be raised by one person getting dizzy running around and around the same block for upwards of four hours before the sun comes up on a Sunday morning. Looking at my network on LinkedIn, I see that I have over 5,000 connections and a little simple mathematics says that at just under $1 donated per connection I could raise $4,219.50 or a nice, round $100 per kilometre. So that is my aim and I am hopeful that many people in my network can get an introduction to the great work that Radiology Across Borders do, and take this opportunity to make a donation to support RAB through this isolation marathon. In the event we don’t reach that target, I am still going to try to reach the other target of getting through the 42.195 km.

My proposed running track is a 710-meter loop that does not get further than 250m from my house, which would comply with some of the new rules in parts of Europe. For the complete marathon, this will mean nearly 60 rather boring laps. One small advantage is that such a repetitive course does give me the opportunity to use the top of my letterbox as a drink station. One of my sons was concerned that someone might steal my drink bottle, but I suspect there are not too many people in the time of COVID-19 stealing a second-hand drink bottle before dawn on a cold Sunday morning.

One consideration now is what audio to take with me on this journey. I am thinking quite hard now about a good audiobook of about 8 hours in normal length that can accompany me through this project at 2x speed. I suspect that I will not be able to complete this thing in under four hours so I have plenty of time for a good book. I also learnt this morning that my wife (and maybe my dog) plan to join me for the final ten kilometres which will certainly make getting to the end of this run a whole lot least this is my hope!

Finally, I need to say that the chance to raise even a little money for Radiology Across Borders is an over-riding driver in getting me to the end of this ’race’. I remain very impressed by this organisation, and especially the people who volunteer their time and skills to improve the lives of people in developing countries through the delivery of high-quality education in radiology. I think every dollar going to RAB will be a dollar well invested which makes a repetitive loop of my block for a few hours an absolute pleasure

Steven Bell  
Siemens Healthineers
Senior Vice-President Diagnostic Imaging and Digital Health Asia-Pacific

Support Steven and Donate