Chicks cross marathon road

Multisport Mecca - - Front Page - Grant Ed­wards

WITH a grow­ing mem­ber­ship base sur­pass­ing 1000, Run­ning Chicks founder De­bra Mills isn’t sur­prised at the suc­cess.

Mod­est about her role in the group’s rapidly ex­pand­ing sup­port network, Deb sim­ply sees it as ful­fill­ing a need.

“I wanted to bring peo­ple to­gether and meet new peo­ple. There was noth­ing there to do that,” she said.

“Run­ning is quite a lonely sport if you don’t put your hand up say­ing ‘do you fancy run­ning with me’.

“I see it as some­thing that

was needed.

“There was no fo­rum, so we cre­ated some­thing that was miss­ing.”

The Run­ning Chicks have the largest team tak­ing part in Sun­day’s 7 Sun­shine Coast Marathon Fes­ti­val.

En­trants will pri­mar­ily be in the marathon and half marathon events, as well as some in the 10km, 5km and 2km dis­tances.

They’ll be easy to spot, wear­ing the dis­tinc­tive blue and gold colour scheme – which sym­bol­ises the ocean and sun­shine.

Orig­i­nally from Eng­land, it was run­ning which brought Deb and her fam­ily to the Coast.

Liv­ing in Perth for eight years, Deb and her hus­band Chris moved to the Gold Coast. Not en­joy­ing the glit­ter strip, they came to the Sun­shine Coast for a Parkrun event one week­end and the rest is his­tory.

Deb, who now lives at Pel­i­can Wa­ters, is the di­rec­tor of Bight­wa­ter Parkrun.

“Chris is a run­ner. He used to be a pro­fes­sional triath­lete and he got me go­ing,” she said.

“Walk­ing was bor­ing so I started jog­ging.”

Get­ting out was im­por­tant for Deb af­ter the birth of their daugh­ter Si­enna, hav­ing felt house­bound, un­fit and strug­gling with as­pects of post­na­tal de­pres­sion. Six months later she was in fine form and ran the 10km race (while push­ing her daugh­ter in a pram) at the Sun­shine Coast Marathon fes­ti­val in 2013.

Run­ning Chicks now has 600 mem­bers on the Sun­shine Coast, 400 at Wide Bay and 100 at North­ern Rivers. Run­ning Roost­ers has also been formed for blokes.

The groups are a place to find train­ing part­ners, dis­cuss train­ing plans, dis­cuss all things run­ning re­lated and get to­gether for so­cial events.

“We’ll be wear­ing yel­low rib­bons ap­pre­ci­at­ing men­tal health and we’ll have a tent at the Sun­shine Coast marathon where we have a bar­be­cue and raise money for men­tal help and RU OK day,” Deb said.

Deb is cur­rently re­cov­er­ing from skin cancer pro­ce­dures so she will be side­lined on Sun­day, wear­ing the Run­ning Chicks’ trade­mark blue wig and tutu, and cheer­ing. Run­ners are en­cour­aged to wear a yel­low rib­bon to show their sup­port for men­tal health is­sues.

Ex­cite­ment is build­ing ahead of this week­end’s fes­ti­val.

Among the ma­jor changes this year will see the marathon and half marathon com­peti­tors set off at the same time on a new course which has four fewer u-turns and re­duced cor­ners.

All eyes will be on the clock for the half marathon­ers, with $25,000 up for grabs if any Aus­tralian can break the na­tional 21.1km record.

Five ath­letes with sub-65 minute times are set to com­pete in the 21.1km race, which also dou­bles as the Aus­tralian Half

Marathon Cham­pi­onship. It will be the most com­pet­i­tive field for a 21.1km race in the coun­try this year.

Amid them is Olympian Col­lis Birm­ing­ham (pic­tured above), who was among the pac­ers at the Break­ing2 event in Italy dur­ing May, and is the hot favourite to se­cure the ti­tle with a per­sonal best of 1:00:56.

The na­tional men’s record holder is Pat Car­roll 1:01:11 (1994), while the women’s ti­tle is held by Lisa Weight­man 1:09:00 (2010).

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

Per­sonal trainer Tracey Heath, John Simp­son, De­bra Mills and Rob Clark. They were cel­e­brat­ing Deb’s 100th oc­ca­sion as a Parkrun vol­un­teer. She was the 74th park run­ner in the world to vol­un­teer more than 100 times and also run 100 times.

Sun­shine Coast Run­ning Chicks has the big­gest team en­tered into the this year’s 7 Sun­shine Coast Marathon Fes­ti­val.

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