Heartbreaking reason this dad ran a marathon pushing an empty stroller

Raising awareness of stillbirth.
Raising awareness of stillbirth. Photo: Facebook: Troy Austin

At the Sunshine Coast Marathon last month, Troy Austin lined up with thousands of other runners to start the 42.2km race. But there was something different about Troy: he was running with an empty pram.

A woman looked over and quipped, "Hey mate, you've lost your kid!"

"Yes, that's the point," answered Troy.

It's a conversation Troy would have many times that day, and the entire point of running with the empty pram. A year and a half ago, Troy and his wife Kelly lost their son TG when he was stillborn at 27 weeks.

In January 2016, Kelly went for a standard ultrasound, only to learn her baby boy had no heartbeat. He was delivered a few days later.

In Troy's Facebook post about the event, he said he ran with two friends, Brett and Robert, who stepped in to answer questions for Troy when it became difficult for him.

"As the run continued the onslaught was relentless," he wrote, "crossing over to the second lap I hear on the loudspeaker, 'Here comes old mate and it looks like he lost his kid.' More giggles from the crowd."

Although the entire point of running with the empty pram was to have people ask questions, so Troy could raise awareness of stillbirth, the jokes and the comments were difficult for him to hear over and over again.

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"I specifically didn't put a sign on the pram so questions would be raised," he said. "I just didn't realise how many questions would be raised."

But he says he got through by changing the way he thought about what people were saying.

"The thought which helped me, though, was telling myself that every time that phrase was yelled out, they were acknowledging that I lost my son…Parents that have lost a child want to hear their children's name, they want to know they are counted.

"They were acknowledging that TG was my boy."

Troy told the Daily Mail about the day TG was born. "You go to the hospital to give birth, knowing that your bub isn't coming home to his room. His clothes are not needed, his cot is an empty space…We smiled through the heartache because we had our first child, we were a family."

Troy and Kelly held TG until the sun came up the next morning.

Troy says the grief from losing TG never leaves him. "It comes in waves," he said. "You will be doing something and just get sad, you try and remember holding your son, you wonder what you would be doing."

Troy is a triathlete, and says he used the sport to help him to deal with TG's death. Kelly keeps his memory alive with small gestures such as by placing a small giraffe at his place at the table during family events.

A picture of a large and small giraffe is the logo for TG's Legacy, the charity Troy and Kelly established to raise awareness and support others who have lost a child through stillbirth.

The Austins welcomed a new baby boy Samuel into their family in May, but say he can never replace TG. "We will never forget TG, for he is our son," said Troy.

TG's Legacy raised around $6000 last year. They have raised just over $2000 of their $5000 target this year.