I’m A Runner: Kon Karapanagiotidis

The human rights lawyer and social worker runs for refugees.

Kon Karapanagiotidis, Founder & CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, 44, Melbourne, Australia

In my 30s I started a monthly challenge to do something that terrified me. As part of the challenge I decided to run a half-marathon. I wanted to run to raise money for my charity, the ASRC, to make sure I would stay accountable and definitely follow through with the challenge. That’s how the Run 4 Refugees – ASRC’s biggest annual fundraising event – started.

What I love about running is that it’s communal, and everyone is an equal. Anyone can do it, it doesn’t matter how old you are.

I raised A$30,000 for my first half-marathon. It was also the only time I actually trained for a half-marathon. The other times I’ve run a half-marathon I did so without any training!

I’m the first to say that I’m a sloth – I’m not fit, but I’m a stubborn person. I like pushing myself beyond limits. It’s only my stubbornness that gets me over the finish line.

I’ve done all the things you’re not supposed to – I once ran a half-marathon wearing shoes I’d bought the day before!

I started running in costume as another challenge. I’ve run in a wedding dress, a pink tutu, as Scott Morrison’s missing heart. I’ll be running in costume again this year, but I haven’t decided what I will dress up as yet.

I will be training for this year’s Run 4 Refugees. Doing what I do means I don’t have much time to spare for myself, but I hope by getting a run group together, that will get me out the door on time twice a week.

It’s great to run together with refugees: it’s especially profound for them, as they feel part of a community.

I only run when it’s for refugees. That’s what motivates me and keeps me going. All these people are relying on me and I can’t let them down.

The people I work with and run for have literally been running for their lives. So when I’m out there running and my knee hurts, I can’t really complain, can I?

Running for a cause like Run 4 Refugees is beautiful. We get to turn running – which can be a symbol of war and chaos – into a symbol of hope, something positive. You can run for your own health and fitness and do good at the same time.

Kon Karapanagiotidis founded the ASRC in 2001, and the Run4Refugees is one of its largest fundraisers. Visit asrc.org.au/run4refugees for details on how you can join the run this year.


Subscribe to Runner's World

Related Articles