Melbourne Marathon – Runnin’ For A Good Cause!

The Melbourne Marathon.

In the late seventies and early 80s, most major cities decided to follow in the successful footsteps of Boston and host a marathon. With milk drink Big M sponsoring it, Melbourne staged its first marathon in 1978 on a course that began in Frankston, headed up Nepean Highway and finished outside the Melbourne Town Hall. Over 2000 runners took part in the inaugural event with most catching a special early morning train to Frankston. The race quickly went through a boom period with more than 6000 entrants in 1983 – the year that Robert de Castella won the world marathon championship in Helsinki. But as with many events in the southern hemisphere, the race struggled through the 1990’s before a massive upsurge in interest in 2007. Now owned by IMG, the race has become the biggest marathon in Australia with a record 6218 completing the course in 2012 and more than 35,000 entries across the four accompanying events – The Half Marathon, 10km Run and the Asics 5.7km run and 3km walk events.

The Melbourne Marathon is being held on Sunday October 16th this year!

Melbourne University Athletic Club member Ellen Schaef and her team of amazing fundraisers (including 3 doctors, 1 nurse, 3 molecular geneticists and 2 psychologists) have formed as Step Up for CUP – a team dedicated to raising awareness for patients diagnosed with Carcinoma of Unknown Primary (CUP) – a devastating disease where the cancer has already metastasized and the location of the primary tumor cannot be found.
As an enthusiastic athlete and competitor of 19 years, running has always been something that’s close to Ellen. Having graduated university with a Genetics Degree, Ellen moved from New Zealand to work at the Pete MacCallum Cancer Centre with patients suffering CUP. However, something that didn’t sit well with Ellen after starting as a Researcher, was the budget running out. The unsettling conclusion would be to lower the number of patients they would be able to recruit (and ultimately help) by about 50-100.
As it’s Ellen’s main role to consent patients to the study and follow their journey for 12 months so she is able to see firsthand the damage CUP does (both mentally and physically) and the thought of turning away patients her and the team can help (simply because lack of funds) was an awful feeling for Ellen.
When Peter Mac decided to fund-raise through the Melbourne Marathon, Ellen saw this as the perfect opportunity to create a team of dedicated and passionate people, to run and generate as many funds as possible to help their research requirements. Thus, Step Up for CUP was formed!
For a lot of us, running is taken for granted, but as Ellen learned there are those who would dream of having the luxury of strapping on some sneakers and hitting the track to run some kilometers with friends and family.
For Ellen and many others, the Melbourne Marathon is seen as being extremely tough, however, it doesn’t compare to what others are going through at Peter Mac.
To help Ellen and her research team raise money so they can better understand this devastating disease – please click here.

If you’re an AV Member and are running in the Melbourne Marathon for charity – please email your story to