Running the 30km Prom Country Challenge around the hills of Toora last year was a real thrill for me, and my very proud parents for a range of reasons.
I was born in Toora over 40 years ago. Mostly when I tell people where I am from it is easier to say I grew up on a farm near Wilson’s Promontory, as most people know of the “Prom” and its beautiful beaches and walks, but not many people know about the special little town of Toora which is about 2 ½ hours south-east of Melbourne. The “Prom Country Challenge” is putting Toora on the map for runners.
Mine is a bit of a Cliff Young story as my entrée to long-distance running was helping Dad round up sheep and cattle on foot, all part of growing up on a farm. At school I did a bit of cross-country running but it wasn’t till my mid twenties that I started firstly going for a bit of a jog, usually around 4 to 5kms, then building to 10kms. With the encouragement of a friend I did my first half-marathon on the Gold Coast when I was about 28 years old.
My twin sister, Keryn lives on the Gold Coast so I started combining a trip to see her with doing the “Gold Coast half-marathon”. After completing my third half-marathon on the Gold Coast in 26degree heat, and suffering badly from dehydration, I asked Keryn to remind me of how bad I felt at that time just in case I ever thought of running a marathon. Well, they do say you don’t remember pain. Only 18 months after that experience and at the age of 40 I ran my first-marathon; the 2005 Gold Coast marathon.
Since then I have continued to combine travelling with running. In November 2005 I ran the Florence marathon (Firenze maratona) in Italy. Last year I completed three marathons: the 111th Boston marathon in April, Melbourne marathon in October then four weeks later the New York marathon in November. It was an enormous buzz to run these races, particularly the Boston marathon as it is considered the most elite marathon in the world. You need to run a qualifying time for Boston. There are some advantages of being a “mature” age woman runner. The qualifying time for Boston is 3hrs 50mins. Currently my fastest time is 3hrs 38mins 40 seconds.
On 6th July I will run the Gold Coast marathon for the third time which will be my 7th marathon.
I really never thought I would run a marathon, let alone really enjoy it. Training and running marathons has allowed me to dispel lots of myths around running long distances. Running my first marathon did coincide with my 40th year, however, it wasn’t particularly about being 40. The seed was planted when I watched an iron-man race and was totally in awe of the variation in age and body-shape of the people completing the race after many hours. Something inside me knew that if I never challenged myself to a major endurance event I would regret it. And, what I have experienced over the past several years while running has been fantastic.
The feeling of coming back to Toora, my home town, to run around the hills where I grew up in the Prom Country Challenge is truly wonderful. It is a tough hilly race. The view that you get after making it over Mt Best, looking out across Corner Inlet and Wilson’s Promontory is well worth the effort and would rival any view in the world. I will be completing in the Prom Country Challenge again in August as part of my lead up to the Melbourne marathon. I’m looking forward to the challenge of improving on my last year’s time.