Momentum Media backs running for resilience…and a cause

Momentum Media backs running for resilience…and a cause

When ex-military man Rodney “Rocket” Cottam was in a serious motor vehicle accident almost two decades ago that left him permanently paralysed in his left arm, he turned to running to build his strength and resilience. Now, he has partnered with Momentum Media to undertake a punishing running challenge to raise funds for a cause close to his heart.  

Momentum Media is the media partner of Run Rocket Run, the name under which Rodney Cottam will undertake his 350-kilometre running challenge between 7–11 November 2022.

Mr Cottam’s philosophy is simple. While our first instinct is to identify a problem and be clouded by negativity, he rejoices in finding solutions and focusing on what is within his circle of control.

“In my instance I couldn’t control what happened, or the end result of my accident. So, there’s absolutely no reason for me to focus on it,” he asserted to Momentum Media.

“All I can focus on is moving forward and figuring out how I adapt to it, get through it, and change the way I normally would do things.”

Life can be unpredictable and fragile at the best of times, something Mr Cottam — the regional sales manager at non-bank lender Resimac — has experienced first-hand.

In 2000, Mr Cottam joined the army, where he was a paratrooper for over four years  in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment based in Sydney. 

During this time he was deployed to Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and travelled to different parts of Australia where he trained for deployments.

In 2004, he was travelling back to his base in Sydney when he was involved in a motorbike accident that would upend his life.

He was immediately rushed to the hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit, where he would remain for a week.

Mr Cottam was left with several injuries including a spinal injury, fractured pelvis, broken ribs, a punctured lung, and multiple lacerations.

After two 10-hour surgeries and 12 months of treatment, Mr Cottam received a long-term prognosis caused by spinal nerve damage called brachial plexus palsy, resulting in permanent paralysis in his left arm.

In that moment, Mr Cottam transformed from an elite soldier in prime physical condition to completely losing all movement and feeling in one arm from shoulder to fingertips.

How military training taught him to live life

Unbeknownst to him at the time, his military training would arm him with the resilience and coping mechanisms to overcome what appeared to be insurmountable challenges.

“My military career, the training that I undertook for it, and being deployed for overseas operations certainly set me up to be able to deal with things,” he said.

“I obviously didn’t know this accident was going to happen at the time, but when you’ve got a mission to accomplish in the military you’re trained to just do what you need to do to get it done. Good things and bad things can happen, but you just have to keep going.”

Mr Cottam continued: “I suppose for me, it was relatively easier to deal with my accident and its consequences because I was trained to think, ‘it is what it is’. I just need to move on and get the job done. 

“That job was to live life.”

Mr Cottam credits his resilience to his ability to block all external factors that impede his focus on his objectives.

“We tend to create a lot of white noise and take on external factors ourselves, or we are surrounded by them,” he said.

“Blocking all of that and focusing on things that matter and are in our control will make it easier to overcome adversity. It’s not necessarily as hard as we perceive it to be.”

A key tool Mr Cottam used to build his resilience is running — something he was always passionate about. While it was challenging to run after the accident as he had no strength or support in his shoulder joint, he eventually found his balance and rhythm with time, practise, persistence, and patience.

He transitioned from an elliptical machine to a treadmill before progressing to road and trail running.

Almost two decades after the accident, Mr Cottam now runs at least five days and up to 100 kilometres per week. He prefers to run on trails as it allows him to bask in nature and the diversity of the terrain.

“Running eliminates distractions and is also great for our mental health,” Mr Cottam said.

“When I’m running, I have no phone or external noises. When I’m trail running, I’ve got the bush and national parks and amazing scenery. And everyone can run. You don’t need equipment or anything.”

Running to the top of the world

Mr Cottam’s military career and the accident have driven him to undertake a challenge that combines his passion for running with raising funds for a worthy cause.

In November 2022, he will complete a 350-kilometre running challenge for the first time under the moniker ‘Run Rocket Run’ in an effort to raise funds for the veteran support charity Invictus Australia (a charity supported by Momentum Media).

“The cause is very close to my heart as it’s for wounded veterans. In terms of how much I want to raise, the sky's the limit, but I’d be disappointed with anything below the $100,000 mark. We can do more than that,” Mr Cottam affirmed.

With the support of Momentum Media, Resimac and its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) campaign alongside a range of other partners, Mr Cottam is endeavouring to complete the trail run in five days, averaging 70 kilometres a day.

Momentum Markets director Alex Whitlock said that Mr Cottam had shown great courage in meeting his own challenges while striving to help support wounded veterans. 

“There are few able-bodied people who would have the resilience, strength, and courage to take on such a huge undertaking,” Mr Whitlock said. 

“Running 70 kilometres off road in one day is a massive feat, let alone getting [up] and doing it all over again for the next four days.

“He is an inspiration to everyone and has demonstrated just what’s possible with determination, vision, and dedicated training. We’re proud to support Mr Cottam’s cause and I’m sure that our industry will help him surpass his $100,000 goal.” 

Breaking it down into small steps

Mr Cottam’s gruelling expedition will begin in the Southern Highlands. From there, he will proceed to Canberra and wind his way through many national parks (including Kosciuszko National Park), finishing at Mount Kosciuszko (the tallest mountain in Australia at over 2,200 metres above sea level)

“I have chosen to break it down to 70 kilometres a day averaging about 10 hours a day of running, which is about seven kilometres an hour. While a seven-kilometre run might sound easy, doing it for 10 hours a day, five days in a row to cover 350 kilometres will be the mission and challenge,” Mr Cottam said.

“This strategy is no different to the military where the end goal was to complete the mission. To do that, we had to break it down into small steps and focus on the processes. I’m preparing my body mentally and physically, which includes a planned diet and good sleep.”

Touring countries in different parts of the world has also given Mr Cottam perspective, which he said would help him complete the challenge.

“Running 350 kilometres in five days is going to be tough, but it’s not as tough as what other people in the world have to deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he noted.

“We've got it extremely easy in Australia and we’re extremely lucky, which is both good and bad. It’s great that we can have that but sometimes we take things for granted too.”

Support system key to jumping hurdles

Training is in full swing for Mr Cottam, who recently participated in a 62-kilometre race. The 100-day countdown commenced on 30 July, and he is aiming to add more running programs to his schedule to build strength and resilience in time for the challenge in November.

Mr Cottam will be accompanied by one support person to assist him with pacing throughout the trail run, and second on a vehicle to document his run via video footage as well as set up camp and prepare food and clothing at the end of each day.

For others who may be facing adversity, Mr Cottam concluded that the key to overcoming it is to surround themselves with a support group that enhances their wellbeing.

“No one can do anything by themselves, especially when they're going through adversity,” he insisted.

“The most important thing is to have a team of people to talk to. Make sure they're the right people that make you better as well.”

Momentum Media is the media partner of Run Rocket Run, the name under which Rodney Cottam will undertake his 350-kilometre running challenge between 7–11 November 2022.

To help Rodney Cottam raise money for Invictus Australia, donate now by clicking here.

For more information about Run Rocket Run, click here.