Chicks cross marathon road
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
“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).
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.