Tom Batrouney gives himself permission to think bigger
To run forever. That’s the goal, right? Not in a literal sense of course, but in the sense of how many of us see the rest of our lives. Ask any runner that has succumbed to the addiction if they plan on hanging up their runners after the next goal race and they’ll tell you, ‘I want to run forever’. As the great Ben Harper sang on his song ‘Forever’, ‘Not talkin' 'bout a year, no not three or four. I don't want that kind of forever in my life anymore’.
But what about literally - could someone run forever? You might scoff, but science suggests it is possible. Alex Hutchinson, renowned author and Science Journalist for Outside, has touched on this before, and you can get a very brief overview here.
Without giving you the science, Hutchinson makes the point that largely the reason no one has run forever is because eventually our minds make a decision to stop - as opposed to our bodies forcing us to give up.
Anyway, all of that is missing the point of this piece, and that is to tell you - Tom Batrouney is planning to run forever at his aptly titled event, Run Forever, on January 21st 2022.
To understand Tom Batrouney’s PROJECT: RUN FOREVER, you first need to understand the man.
Living in Manly, Batrouney is an environmentalist (though he doesn’t care for the term), an entrepreneur, a runner, and a father - and that might be the best place to start.
His son Dion is just 2.5 years old, and Batrouney explains that when he looks at his son, he gets ‘fired up’.
“Dion and really all of the world’s children (the future generation) are all the motivation I need. People love their kids and would fight for their safety with all of their strength and that is exactly what my life is about. If the government won’t put our children’s future first then we have to and it’s not about recycling, it’s about spreading love and making noise.”
Being inspired by family, especially our dependants, isn’t unique - most people would say they’re inspired by the idea that they are providing for their children. But for a lot of people it becomes a loosely-guiding statement, something they think of at emotional periods in their lives or when things are going poorly. For many, the idea of putting money in the bank or providing security and safety for their children is what they default to.
Batrouney, on the other hand, uses the inspiration of his son Dion as a literal driving force for what he does in life. When he sees Dion, he thinks about the future, not just Dion’s future.
“I think about what Dion’s life will look like when he’s my age. What will the world look like, what will society be like when he’s my age? And then also what will Dion’s power be - will he understand what he’s capable of? He’s already been at a handful of my 100k races and while obviously he can’t verbalise what he’s seeing, it’s sinking in. He’s absorbing what I do and why I do it.”
"People love their kids and would fight for their safety with all of their strength and that is exactly what my life is about. If the government won’t put our children’s future first then we have to and it’s not about recycling it’s about spreading love and making noise.”
Speaking of what the world could look like in the future, Batrouney works for Seabin Project; an organisation dedicated to cleaning up the ocean via bins that capture the rubbish that we ultimately have put there.
“One of the things I love about Seabin is that it proves that we can take so much of the rubbish out of the ocean. We have the capability to do that.
We can undo some of this damage we’ve done to our world if we use our power for good. People and the planet are completely linked. We live here. This is our home, we need to look after it.”
One of the most striking impressions of Batrouney during our conversations is his enthusiasm. Not just for PROJECT: RUN FOREVER, but for all of us. For the people around him, and equally the people who aren’t around him but who he might be able to impact and help one day via Seabin or other initiatives he’s involved in.
“I get inspiration from everywhere. A lot of people get inspired by professional athletes or famous people, but I can get the same spark from being in the supermarket and seeing a single parent juggling all their responsibilities - raising a family, working, taking care of the household.
Everyone has the power to inspire, they just don’t realise it. Everyone is dealing with their own things and doing something amazing, and I just want more people to understand that they have this power.”
How exactly will PROJECT: RUN FOREVER work? It’s going down at Manly Dam - a popular training ground for a lot of runners and also right in Tom’s backyard. The concept is pretty simple; Tom will set off at 5am on Jan 21st, and will be running 10km laps. For each 10km lap he does, there will be a donation target to reach. Provided his donation target is met during that 10km lap he will keep going. When the money stops, Tom stops.
His fundraising goal? Half a million dollars donated to For Wild Places and Seabin Project. What?! Yep. Batrouney wants to redefine what fundraising looks like for individuals. So often the purpose or mission is an afterthought but in this project it is just as important (if not more so) than the act of running.
“$500,000 sounds crazy, but that’s sort of the point. It’s a big number and it might seem impossible, but why? It’s completely possible. I want more people to enter fundraising with bigger goals of what they can do if they really focus on it.”
"Everyone has the power to inspire, they just don’t realise it. Everyone is dealing with their own things and doing something amazing, and I just want more people to understand that they have this power.”
Of course, Batrouney’s not doing this alone. Behind him is an army of supporters, facilitators, and sponsors - all of whom align closely to his passions in life and running. One of those friends and supporters is Dan Price - a mental health advocate and ultra runner who himself is running a 205km ultra in November to raise funds for Movember, an organisation he is an ambassador for (follow Dan on IG here).
“Tom and I connected through our shared passion for running, inspiring and moving people into action. I love how Tom is always looking to push his personal limits by challenging himself with big projects like Run Forever, which perfectly sums up the type of guy he is.
He doesn’t believe in limits and wants everyone to understand that they have so much power within them to make positive change for not only themselves but most importantly our planet.”
You don’t raise half a million dollars in a day, and Batrouney is using the lead in period to work with corporate Australia, the media, and his sponsors to help get his fundraising underway - knowing once he starts running, he won’t have much time to be working the phones.
“Yeah, that’s the plan - to try and get as much money in before the run starts, but of course I want people to donate on the day as well - keep me running forever!”