A CHANCE to try and help a family he had never met survive a personal tragedy has sparked a life change for Barrack Heights resident Chris Rand.
It also set him on a path which led all the way to the Boston Marathon.
A couple of years ago, the tattoo artist saw a piece on the news about a visually impaired mother whose young son almost drowned in a bucket of water in their backyard, and was on life support in hospital.
He wondered what he could do to help them.
"Being a father myself, I was deeply moved by their plight and decided to put a collection tin at our two tattoo parlours," Rand said.
"But I needed to offer a bit more myself to get people interested, so I decided to do my first marathon.
"So I started training and entered into the Canberra Marathon, and can tell you it nearly killed me.
"It took me around four hours, but I made it through and it made me realise what I can do.
"Unfortunately the young boy passed away just before the marathon, but we made sure the nearly $2000 we raised was delivered to the family anyway.
"They had no idea we were running the fund-raiser and were thrilled when we turned up."
That first marathon sparked the 41-year-old's interest in further competitions, eventually setting a target to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
"But first I had to run a qualifying time of 3:15.00," he said. "I was lucky enough to run 3:01.00 in Canberra last year, so the pressure was off, but the good thing was that time qualified me in the top 5000 from around 36,000 runners."
Having recently returned from the trip, Rand said the Boston Marathon and everything surrounding it made the occasion an unforgettable experience.
"The Americans were determined not to let the events of the 2013 marathon [when three people were killed in a bomb blast near the finishing line, as well as a policeman afterwards] ruin the event, and came out in large numbers to cheer the runners on.
"It is estimated there was between one million and 1.2 million spectators.
"Just imagine people lined up from Windang to Bulli, and three or four deep in some places.
"It was unbelievable, and a great experience for our whole family to be there.
"I finished around 2700th [2300 in front of others in the top 5000], was in the top 15 Aussies and came 411th in the 40-plus men's category - and you have to be happy with that," he said.
Rand is planning for his next triathlon on the Gold Coast in July, and has learned to stick to a tight schedule.
"Between working at our family tattoo businesses, performing in two bands [heavy metal favourites Segression and acoustic act Kyndle] and training, you have to be organised.
"I have a wonderfully supportive wife and a close-knit family who help me stay on track. The running has helped me in the band and at work as the extra stamina comes in very handy."