It made me feel amazing when I finished that race (because) I knew that I couldn't be defined by my shoes or my situation. That was the moment that changed my attitude towards lifeKieron Douglass
TWENTY years after he turned to running to overcome severe anxiety and depression, Kieron Douglass is gearing up to tackle the world's longest trail race.
In September, the Victoria Point ultra runner will attempt the 500 kilometre Wild Earth Ultra Trail Gold Coast at Nerang National Park.
The race's elevation gain is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest twice.
Douglass, now an inspirational speaker, turned to running as an escape from a traumatic home life as a child.
His mother battled mental health issues and Douglass was also exposed to alcohol and drugs from a young age.
Battling with depression and anxiety in his teenage years, he turned to running as an escape.
"I was a really good sprinter (but when) I got to high school, a lot of the newer kids I was meeting were a lot faster than I was, so I really gravitated towards cross country," he said.
"Around this time I was dealing with everything at home (and) it was the best escape I had, to just go for a run."
Douglass said a turning point in his life came after he finished a school cross country in heavy Doc Marten boots.
"I wasn't able to get proper running shoes before the race," he said.
"It made me feel amazing when I finished that race (because) I knew that I couldn't be defined by my shoes or my situation.
"That was the moment that changed my attitude towards life."
Since then, Douglass has repeatedly pushed himself to his limits, running 320 kilometres in the Nerang State Forest last year and later running 76 kilometres backwards in aid of Juiced TV, a program made by and for children in hospital.
He also works as an inspirational speaker and has visited Cleveland and Victoria Point State High Schools, where he was a student, to tell his story.
"It was quite a surreal moment and speak in front of teachers, because they didn't really have any idea what was happening at home," he said.
In the coming months, he will complete a number of 100 kilometre races in preparation for the Wild Earth Ultra Trail.
Contact Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. For crisis counselling, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.