An Inaugural “Mental Fitness Week” will take place on the Northern Beaches this month featuring two main events – Head Above Water, which is a 24-hour swim-a-thon at Collaroy Rock Pool on Saturday March 14, and the Gotcha4Life Fun Run (formerly known as the Cliffside Festival), happening at Long Reef on Sunday March 22.

The week has been organised by local not-for-profit group Gotcha4Life with an aim of raising funds for mental health programs whilst connecting the community in promoting positive mental wellbeing. Also planned throughout the week are in-school workshops, yoga, meditation and Mental Health First Aid training programs, providing an opportunity for everyone to get involved and have fun.

Gotcha4Life founder Gus Worland

Following the loss of a valued friend and mentor to suicide, Beaches local Gus Worland hosted the ABC documentary ‘Man Up’ in 2016 which opened his eyes to the need for more to be done in the mental health space. He particularly wanted to work on prevention through enabling deeper personal connections and was then inspired to start Gotcha4Life. The foundation now has an extensive advisory board that includes Golden Globe-nominated actor Hugh Jackman, and funds educational workshops, innovative training programs and products that build mental fitness in individuals and communities across Australia. Gus says he hopes to see ‘Mental Fitness Week’ become a hallmark event in the Northern Beaches’ community calendar. 

Swimmers will dive in for the ‘Head Above Water’ event at 8am on Saturday March 14 and finish the gruelling relay exactly 24 hours later.  In 2019 the Swim-a-thon raised $80,000 with over 500 swimmers completing 19,026 laps, the equivalent of swimming 951km.

Head Above Water Founder and Gotcha4Life Ambassador, Andrew (Wardy) Ward says the swim is suitable for everyone; “This is a great opportunity for the Northern Beaches community to come together, take on a challenge, support our mates and raise funds for a great cause. We’ve got four lanes available to cater for all swimming abilities – from Thorpeedos through to doggy paddlers!”.

Previously called The Cliffside Festival, The Gotcha4Life Fun Run is in its 3rd year. Runners will enjoy the picturesque loop course along the Long Reef headland and up to Collaroy, running either 3km, 5km or 10km. The finish line will be at Griffith Park where a festival atmosphere awaits, including a mechanical wave ride, live entertainment and food trucks. A chillout zone will be available for those who are weary and in need of a well-earned rest!

Northern Beaches locals are encouraged to find out more information and/or register for the two events via the following websites:

Gotcha4Life Fun Run: gotcha4lifefunrun.org

Head Above Water: headabovewater.com.au

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