Talking Mental Health and Post-Project 31 with Jake Malby


There's not many people on the Gold Coast - or in any running group around the country! - who haven't heard of the incredible commitment and initiative by Jake Malby (aka Forest Goat) who blew us all away by running 31 marathons in 31 days known as 'Project 31' for the LIVIN charity.

Project 31 also provided the unique opportunity for many in the local community to connect on a personal level with the initiative through Jake's invitation for people to run with him and share their story.  

As well as being physically challenging we appreciated that Project 31 was just as, if not moreso, mentally challenging with a lot of recovery and self-care involved after the 31 days had finished. 

So how was the recovery and how is Jake going after such a massive event? We will let him tell you!

How would you best describe your feelings and thoughts the moment you made it to Burleigh Hill on the 31st of August at the completion of your incredible Project 31?

I was truly blown away by the amount of people that came out in support for Day 31 - so much more then I had ever imagined it would be.

It left me feeling a massive sense of accomplishment, not just for completing all 31 marathons but the main reason I was doing it was to spread the message of mental health awareness.

From the amazing amount of people that came to Burleigh Hill, I knew the message reached people and connected with them enough that they came along and paid their support to not only to me, but to all the people they personally knew who had struggled with mental health.

What were some of the physical injuries/struggles you had to manage/overcome throughout the initiative?

From day 5 all the way till the end, I was dealing with sciatica on my left side of my leg… a pain that radiated from my hip all the way down to my little toe.

My head was so strong but I really did have to dig deep. I managed not to use any pain medication until day 21 when I ended up having to deal with it in both legs.

I had a really good team that looked after the body and daily treatments kept everything at bay. Also, lots of daily taping held me together till the end.

What were some of the emotional/mental injuries/struggles you had to manage/overcome throughout the initiative?

Day 5 I woke up and knew I was running for my mother. I definitely shed a few tears for over the first half marathon as I ran alone and could take it all in. I didn’t want to quit with any of the pain I went through and didn’t even cross my mind, until day 27.

The day I woke in a negative mindset and the first and only thoughts of quitting came into place. It was the first marathon I had to walk/run and it really got to me.

Describe what you went through with your recovery both physically and emotionally after the initiative had finished?

The first month after August I felt really happy. Constantly doing things and still even running a little.

Then the next two months after that I picked up a few injuries that had me having to take a step back from running. It definitely hasn’t been easy and I am not ashamed to say that I have had some really rough days dealing with adversity but being able to talk to my close friends and family and knowing “it ain’t weak to speak”, I could throw my hand up and get help I needed. 

You relied on a lot of support throughout the initiative, did you feel you needed the same amount of support after the event?

The support is what got me to the finish line. To be able to run for people that have dealt with mental health. To all the people that came to share k’s with me. To be honest I didn’t think I’d need any support after. I felt like I had everything sorted.

Even knowing and having in the back of my mind I would have a really big low after, I thought I’d be able to manage it on my own but I did have to reach out. 

Support is everywhere for me, I just had to ask.

What are you up to now?

After years of working in the construction industry, I landed a job as a lifeguard at Wet'n'Wild here on the Gold Coast and absolutely loving it. 

I'm also being really mindful of lots of 'me' time. Soaking lots of time up at the beach with my dog Manor. Loving lots of family time. And yes, a little bit of running.

Are you still running frequently?

Definitely not as much as I would like to be, but knowing my body needs some much needed rest. I probably go for more walks for now for the time being.

Do you have any other big projects on the horizon in 2020?

I definitely have big plans for 2020! I will be running again in the 2020 Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon for Team LIVIN which I’m stoked about.

I also have another big initiative that I’m pretty excited about and will be running 850 kilometres in just over a week from the Sydney opera house to Burleigh Hill in Queensland.

My mind is always coming up with ideas to push myself physically and mentally so who knows what else!

What were some of the inspiring moments that really stood out throughout your Project 31?

So many come to mind but definitely all the people that ran their first marathon and there was well over 25.

A lot of them hadn’t even trained to do it but found the power of belief and had the want to.

My little cousin Cahil ran 7 full marathons with me in the month of August and came on countless others sharing and supporting me the whole way.

My brother Ben also running the last three marathons and for the first time since I started running, watching him have to dig deep to get them done as he had taken a step back from running due to a career change and didn’t train for them.

In what ways do you hope your Project 31 and the message behind inspired others?

If one person saw my story and got the strength to reach out for help, that’s all I wanted. Everyday I was out there, I knew it was another extra day that mental health was getting spoken about and that is what really pushed me to get up every morning.

What would you like to say to all the supporters who either ran, donated, or just messaged you throughout your campaign?

Without you all the project wouldn’t have been such a success in my eyes.

To all the people that shared k’s and shared their stories I drew all my strength from.

To the donations that exceeded my goal by almost $20,000.

Everyone played such a massive part and will forever be grateful for the love and support.

Thank you all so much.

Follow Jake through @forest.goat