Kerr, Cacace & the amazing list that shows Macarthur physio’s 170km marathon has united Aussie football

It was two o’clock in the morning when Brendan Wyatt took the first steps on a journey that would take every ounce of mental and physical fortitude to complete. 

For the next 17 hours, his life was a living hell. 

It was the morning of Saturday, April 15, and the Macarthur FC physiotherapist had pledged to run from Sydney to Wollongong by the day’s end. The 160-kilometre journey ahead was equal to the approximate length of four marathons combined.

Donate NOW to Brendan Wyatt’s fundraiser for The Brain Foundation!

Along the way he suffered nosebleeds, developed severe blisters, coughed up blood and dodged swooping bats. At the 100km mark, he fell to the ground, and lay flat on his back. Those supporting him along the journey were unsure if he’d get back up.

But by 7.20pm, Wyatt had hauled his body all the way to Wollongong. 

He intended to run 160km in 19 hours, and raise $10,000 for The Brain Foundation in memory of Macarthur captain Ulises Davila’s late wife, Lily Pacheco, who passed away in 2022 at just 30 years of age.

In the end, he inadvertently ran an extra 10km, finished in just over 17 hours, and raised more than $12,000. 

The outlandish target was inspired by “the strength, the determination, the resilience and the incredible leadership” that Wyatt has seen in Davila since Pacheco’s sudden passing. 

The end product was a feat of individual strength matched by the collective will of Wyatt’s family, friends, and the Australian football community to give. 

Wyatt first met Davila in his native New Zealand in 2019, when the Mexican playmaker signed for Isuzu UTE A-League club Wellington Phoenix. Wyatt was a physiotherapist at the club at the time; it’s where he came to know both Davila and Pacheco as friends. 

Davila joined Macarthur in 2021; when a physiotherapist role at the club became vacant, it was Davila who recommended the role to Wyatt, leading him to the role he fills today.

Between Davila’s departure from Wellington and Wyatt’s arrival at Macarthur came Pacheco’s tragic passing. 

What Wyatt has seen in his friend and club captain ever since inspired him to raise money for The Brain Foundation through his 160km run.

Prior to April 15, Wyatt had never run further than 50km at one time. He expected to encounter “extremely dark points” along the run – but got to the finish line by “thinking about what Uli goes through on a day-to-day basis, and how he continues to combat that each and every day.”

Along the way, Wyatt was helped by an army of supporters.

Macarthur played Newcastle Jets on the road on Friday night, and immediately after the club’s 2-1 defeat in the Hunter, Bulls general manager Anthony Siciliano and head of high performance Anthony Crea drove straight back up to meet Wyatt at Avalon Beach.

They slept briefly in the car before joining Wyatt for the 2:00am start. They didn’t leave his side until reaching the finish line in Wollongong.

Bulls winger Craig Noone played in the defeat to the Jets; the following day he hit the pavement with Wyatt, running 34km.

Macarthur keeper Nick Suman ran 25km of the way, his partner Natasha ran 21km of the journey and cycled another 30. Macarthur’s head massage therapist Jun Arima ran 35km with Wyatt despite tearing his calf muscle.

Cody Williamson, the club’s head physiotherapist, ran 60km of the way. When Wyatt fell, Williamson’s support was one of the key reasons he managed to get back up again. Williamson refused to take on any fluids or liquids; he wanted to save those for his colleague and friend on his 160km journey.

Donate NOW to Brendan Wyatt’s fundraiser for The Brain Foundation!

Slowly but surely, Wyatt traversed south across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then out towards Bondi, Coogee and Maroubra. He then ventured through the Royal National Park and Helensburgh, and over the iconic Sea Cliff Beach. 

He began the journey well before sunrise; the sun had set by the time he stopped running, reaching Stuart Park just before 7.30pm.

Meanwhile, donations came from far and wide, including a contribution from Matildas and Chelsea superstar Sam Kerr.

Noone not only ran 34km of the journey; he donated $500. Macarthur team-mates Matt Millar, Lachlan Rose, Nick Suman, Jonathan Aspro, Jake McGing, Bachana Arabuli, Tomislav Uskok and Jake Hollman contributed to the cause, and so did head coach Mile Sterjovski. 

Tatiane Guedes, the wife of Western Sydney Wanderers defender Marcelo, donated $1,500 to Wyatt’s cause in an incredible showing of generosity.

There were also contributions from the likes of former Wellington Phoenix defender Liberato Cacace, A-Leagues great Erik Paartalu, Adelaide United superfan Red Wig Steve and Phoenix Women midfielder Alyssa Whinham, while several others chose to donate anonymously.

By Saturday night, Wyatt had blown his fundraising goal out of the water – but personally, he was spent. Wyatt was hospitalised with severe dehydration and exhaustion; he emerged on Sunday with his donation page steadily receiving fresh contributions. As of Wednesday morning, Wyatt had raised more than $17,000 for The Brain Foundation.

With every stride from the Northern Beaches of Sydney to Wollongong, Wyatt had the mental fortitude to take the near-170-kilometre voyage one step at a time; it’s a mindset he shares with his good friend Davila, who has applied the same approach to his everyday life since the passing of his late wife.

“I cannot use this situation for an excuse. To say: ‘I give up’,” Davila told KEEPUP, sat alongside Wyatt in the Macarthur changerooms.

“I’m in a club, a lot of people depend on me so I try my best every day.

“Sometimes, I’ll be honest, it’s hard. It’s almost impossible.

“But I think: ‘You can do one more day’, and I go day by day. Tomorrow I wake up and think ‘Okay, let’s go another day’. 

“I think that’s why I keep going, to show (my son Ulises Junior) that we don’t have to give up.”

Donate NOW to Brendan Wyatt’s fundraiser for The Brain Foundation!


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