If Jane Anderson walked towards you down the street in her normal clothes the first thing you probably wouldn't think is 'Marathon Runner'. That was certainly the case 12 months ago but is a perception only.
What is a marathon runner? There is no definition really other than someone that runs 42.195km in an organised race. We may have perceptions of what a marathon runner may look like but as happens in everyday life perceptions are only perceptions.
In the story from Jane below you will see that Jane is as tough mentally as anyone you would meet. Here lays the secret likely of what is a marathon runner and definitely not the physical barriers that we hear way too often.
Whether you run the marathon in 2 hours 2 minutes like Kenya's world record holder Dennis Kimetto, or 5 hours 52 minutes you have to be mentally tough. I suspect more mentally tough if you take close to 6 hours on your feet.
So why does someone that finishes 82 of 82 but might I add wearing race bib number 1 become such a fascinating and motivational story for so many people?
I compare it to Eddie the Eagle Edwards the Ski Jumper from the United Kingdom who was the first athlete of his country to enter the event at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. He had little ability compared to others but he had the desire to compete. For many in the ski jumping fraternity he brought the sport into disrepute and they changed the entry criteria for people like that not to enter again.
Maybe that is why ski jumping is done by very few and hence why running a marathon is now a phenomenon, as is running the 5km, 10km, 20km and so on by going out of your comfort zone. Anyone can do it and recreational runners all over the country and world do it every weekend in their thousands.
On an important sidenote we had Jika Knight who is a young man with profound disabilities, he is unable to walk or verbally communicate. He was though super keen to participate in what will be his first marathon. As part of the event we had an Ekiden Relay over the marathon distance and his team pushed him the whole way. Jika will receive a medal also for his super marathon performance and like Jane will inspire many others.
For our community event the O'Keefe Marathon, we are not going to turn the Jane Anderson's of this world away. If our community event is known for having the most 5 hours + runners in it we have met one of its objective. To provide and encourage an inclusive experience for all in the community and being able to participate in a community event.
Race sponsor Andre Booyzen of Mandalay Resources and I were together when someone spoke about cut off times. We knew Jane was out there but we looked at each other and didn't really say it but thought what cut-off time? The volunteers out there were all talking about this super marathon mum from the radio communications and we would have caused a riot if removing her from the trail.
Steven Bradbury wasn't expected to win and he won. Jane was certainly not first over the line and didn't have 81 others fall over in front of her. In every ones eyes Jane is a true winner and now known as you desperately wanted to be 'a marathon runner'. Wear the bling as you call it proudly around your neck to prove it. No one can ever take that away.
Jane has inspired many people and we know there are many more Jane's out there, who have or are ready to make that commitment to change their life, which was her initial goal. Also see the link for the story here from the McIvor Times before the event.
The event was won by two Bendigonians with Jamie Cook in 2 hours 34 minutes and Sarah Jalim in 3 hours 12 minutes. It makes the off-road O'Keefe Rail Trail likely to be one of the quickest off-road courses in the country. Jalim having competed in 10 previous marathons ran an 18 minute personal best. Cook running in his first marathon doing a 2 minute negative split.
The O'Keefe Marathon on the 1st May 2016 was the inaugural event as part of the Heathcote Community Games and assisted by Athletics Bendigo and over 100 community volunteers with a vast majority from Heathcote. The feedback on the event has been amazing and we will share that with everyone after our survey feedback is completed. Dates for next year will be out soon.
This though below is the story from Jane.
Race Report – 42.195km - by Jane Anderson (Marathon Runner)
1st May 2016
I felt a little unprepared as I changed into my running clothes on a very cold Sunday morning. A recently acquired injury in my legs had kept me worried, and not doing the tapering program my coach (www.coachkate.com.au) had set out. Prior to this, during summer, there were some of the long runs I did not complete with my body setting very firm limits as to what temperature it would let me train in, and pretty much the thermostat said stop when it reached over 25 degrees. So between work commitments and the weather, it was hard to do everything I needed to which meant I felt I let both me and my coach down.
That being said, set scary goals and then go and reach them.
The temperature gauge in Royce’s (my partner) car said it was 14 degrees. Perfect. Except the wind-chill factor made it closer to zero. For the first time, I donned a 2nd shirt (I always run in as little as possible due to heat issues), and long sleeves that were removable.
This is the first time this event has been held, and follows the old rail trail between Bendigo and Heathcote and a lot of money has been spent to make this an awesome track. Also a lot of work done to organise it all. Also I wanted to do my first marathon close to home.
I was in the company of many champions, and managed to keep in touch with some runners for most of the first half. A lovely bloke, called Simon Thompson, who also happens to be my GP, was there and it became clear early on he was going to stick by me and help. This meant he was going to sacrifice his time for me. I couldn’t have been more awestruck, and was unsuccessful in dissuading him.
Simon has been absolutely pivotal in keeping me on track with the LCHF (low carb high fat) diet which has seen me drop a lot of weight. There’s an old saying that you can’t outrun a bad diet, and that’s absolutely true – more on that at the end.
Simon had one gps on him, I had 2, which meant there was a lot of commentary about whose was correct. In fact Simon and I talked a lot in the first half. He was commenting that I was probably going a bit faster than what I should. He was correct. But I felt good. And I was producing pb’s across several distances including the first half which was the goal. Incorrectly I thought, if I can get the first half done, I’ll be able to finish with not too much trouble.
Although I had run the course in stages a few times before, when you’re tired, everything is bigger. Every hill is longer and tougher. The biggest plus was that we had a tail wind the WHOLE way. This never happens. We got some selfies as we went along, and also a video, which was fun.
I was ok until the 21.1km point, and then I had to start some walking stretches. The hill at that point is about 1.8km long and a mongrel. One of several happiness killing stretches. We got to a town called Knowsley which was full of people because the Ekiden Relay also held had a turnaround point there and there was a lot of support for Simon and myself with friends calling out my name. And total strangers. I found out later there were updates given to groups about where I was at, including those at the finish line, and to say I was humbled by this would be an understatement.
My pace dropped off considerably after that, and I went into the “zone”. Simon realised I was no good for chatting, but also remembered I told him I like having a “rabbit” out front of me to catch, so he stayed a wee bit ahead of me, and every so often I would grunt or whistle that I needed to walk. By the looks of my splits, kilometre 37 was my toughest.
By this stage the sag wagon had caught me, and they stayed respectfully behind. I knew I was well within the cutoff time, so wasn’t worried about that.
Simon asked me which parts of me weren’t hurting, and after considering the question for a minute, I told him my ears seemed fine.
We’d see Royce every now and again with supplies and encouragement, and then the guys marshalling the road crossings were starting to say “oh here’s the marathon girl” which was what was written on the front of my shirt which lifted my spirits. Every single person was encouraging, although probably wondering why Simon was still back with me.
I should mention that Simon said to me at one point, “you will let me come in last won’t you.” Absolutely no way. He deserved to come in miles ahead of me, and he knew I didn’t want another “last place” on my record sheet, but there was no way he was going to get his first. He had already sacrificed way too much for me.
My mother in law met us at the 40km point, and I could barely acknowledge her. She understood completely, and asked nothing of me. There was nothing left to give in any case. The cardiovascular system was fine. The legs had nothing left.
The last kilometre seemed to go on for miles, and I was totally taken aback about how many people were waiting for me at the finish line and the number cameras there.
The lovely Tara Bell from Trewbella Photography was there to take the finish line photos. One thing I’ve learned after doing a number of events is every time you see a camera, smile, despite how much pain you’re in. Smiling was easy given how lovely everyone was.
What was my final time? Well let’s just say I’m about 3 hours off from qualifying for Boston. In any case, the learning experiences were fantastic, and I’m hoping to shave off considerable time before I do Gold Coast Airport Marathon in early July, particularly since this has no hills and is bitumen! In the meantime, I might see some of you at my first ultra for the Great Ocean Road Marathon in a couple of weeks. (like I said, there’s nothing like setting hard goals)
On the way home, Simon informs me that I’ve probably lost half a kg doing that run. Bloody hell! Like I said at the start, you can’t outrun a bad diet. Yes I jumped on the scales. He was wrong. I’ve lost 800grams. Sigh. This means I only have to run another 19 marathons to reach my goal weight. Apparently. Or just eat Low Carb High Fat. And to tell you the truth, that’s all my body feels like eating right now in any case.
I can report that a marathon for most people is achievable. It is definitely easier than having a baby, and a whole lot easier than having a teenager.
Simon, how can I thank you enough for what you did for me to get me over the line for my first full. Words are just not enough. You are a true champion.
A big thank you to the race organisers. The O’Keefe Rail Trail marathon is awesome and a fantastic event. Sandra Slatter, Vicki Forde, and Craig Green, and all the vollies, plus many, many other people gave up a lot of their own time and energy to support this inaugural event.