The epitome of Invictus – Rodney Cottam
“If anybody embodies the spirit of Invictus, which you know means ‘unconquered’ then this man does. So we welcome you home, and I say to you mate: You’re Invictus. Unconquered.” General Sir Peter Cosgrove (Retd), Invictus Australia Patron.
These powerful words were delivered at the forecourt of the Anzac Memorial in Sydney, as Rodney ‘Rocket’ Cottam completed his second Run Rocket Run long-distance challenge, cheered on by members of the public and his supporters.
Over the course of five days from July 3rd to 7th 2023, Rodney embarked on a grueling run from Coffs Harbour to Sydney. Despite being paralyzed in his left arm due to spinal nerve damage from a motorbike accident 20 years ago, Rodney, a former paratrooper, completed the challenge in just 106 hours, raising awareness and funds for Invictus Australia.
Throughout the run, there were times when Rodney ran in three-hour or one-hour intervals, including during the nighttime. Covering approximately 100 kilometers per day, he subjected his body to immense strain.
This run was Rodney’s second long-distance challenge, following his completion of a 350-kilometer run in five days last year, which raised over $41,000 for Invictus Australia to power more sport & recreational opportunities for military veterans and families to build mental, physical and social wellbeing in local communities around Australia.
To prepare for this latest endeavor, he participated in several long-distance races, including the Australian Alpine Ascent Trail Run, Noosa Ultra-Trail, and The Jabulani Challenge, each ranging from 45 to 100 kilometers.
Reflecting on his experience, Rodney shared that the biggest challenge was the tremendous stress it imposed on his body particularly on his legs, as he experienced a suspected stress fracture in his ankle and swelling in his knees.
resilience gets rodney through
There were times when the physical and mental demands almost overwhelmed him. However, he found his motivation through the purpose behind his efforts. Rodney shared that during his military service, he always had a sense of purpose, and in civilian life, he sought something greater than himself. Engaging in such endeavors provided him with a purpose, by raising awareness & funds to support veteran and family sporting initiatives through Invictus Australia, which can have transformative benefits.
Invictus Australia CEO Michael Hartung says the impact Rodney makes to the organsiation can’t be underestimated. “On behalf of Invictus Australia, I would like to extend our deepest thanks to Rodney for his selfless efforts yet again in raising awareness and support for the needs of veterans. His support will make a significant impact in the lives of our veterans and their families, providing them with the opportunity to regain their confidence and reclaim their lives through sport.
You’ve inspired many Australians with this effort, not only to stay active & connected, but to redefine what resilience means. Strength through vulnerability, leaning on those around you and how to overcome adversity with a strong mindset. From us all, thank you.’
It takes a team, and ‘Run Rocket Run” is just that. Rodney repeatedly acknowledged his support crew, including his fiancée Amanda, crew chief Lee, physio and pacer runners, as well as the messages of support be received during the run. Without this support, Rodney says he would not have been able to complete the run.
A memorable scene from the final leg was Rodney being joined by members of the many organisations that have supported him, as well as Invictus Australia’s very own Adam Pine, who ran the last 4 kilometres over the iconic Harbour Bridge in an act of camaraderie alongside Rodney.
Among his supporters was General Sir Peter Cosgrove (Retd), the former Governor General of Australia (2014-2019) and Chief of the Defence Force (2002-2005), who serves as the Patron of Invictus Australia. Sir Peter sent a video message to Rodney, expressing his support, and later met him at the finish line.
As the Patron of Invictus Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove described Rodney’s endeavor as emblematic of encouraging veterans to navigate their lives beyond the uniform, showcasing the limitless possibilities even when physical capabilities may diminish. He commended Rodney’s unwavering faith and service, stating that he embodies the spirit of Invictus, representing resilience and unconquerable spirit. Sir Peter concluded by welcoming Rodney home and affirming, “You’re Invictus. Unconquered.”
Rodney, an ex-military man from the 3rd Battalion (Royal Australian Regiment), emphasised the promotion of physical, mental, and emotional resilience through running under his moniker Run Rocket Run.
This run would not be possible without the enduring support of a team of dedicated, passionate supporters. Special thanks to the Run Rocket Run raft of partners – Resimac, Momentum Media, Whiskey & Friends, Parramatta Jaguar Land Rover and Set in Motion Physiotherapy and the generosity of the Board of Trustees of the Anzac Memorial who once again generously donated the beautiful building to support the work of Invictus Australia. who by supporting Rodney also support the work of Invictus Australia.