Eye­ing off a dozen

Co­bram run­ner about to com­pete in 12th Mel­bourne Marathon

The Cobram Courier - - SPORT -

FOR 11 suc­ces­sive years Co­bram’s Marie Doyle, 50, has pushed her body to its ab­so­lute lim­its in the Mel­bourne Marathon.

On Sun­day, she will at­tempt to com­plete the dozen in the gru­elling 42 km run, which draws run­ners from across the world.

For the av­er­age punter, run­ning through a wall of ex­haus­tion does not equate to an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence but to the mother, it has been be­come a part of her iden­tity.

‘‘I guess now it’s a bit of a rou­tine, it gets to this time of the year and I think it’s time to go again and do the Mel­bourne Marathon,’’ Doyle said.

She said marathon run­ning has ad­dic­tive lures and the hunger only in­ten­si­fied with the cross­ing of each fin­ish line.

‘‘At first the big draw­card for me was to be­come a Spar­tan; which re­quires you to do 10 Mel­bourne Marathons,’’ Doyle said.

‘‘That was the first goal I set my sights on achiev­ing. I didn’t think I’d keep go­ing af­ter that but I keep com­ing back.’’

Be­ing recog­nised as a Spar­tan is like a badge of hon­our for vet­eran marathon run­ners, with those clas­si­fied as one stand­ing out like a bea­con in the masses by wear­ing a spe­cific sin­glet ap­pro­pri­ate to how many Mel­bourne Marathon’s they have com­pleted.

Her best time in the marathon is three hours and 42 min­utes, which she in­cred­i­bly achieved two years in a row in a year she can­not re­call.

‘‘I’ve al­ways wanted to break that mark but I haven’t yet and I don’t know if I ever will,’’ she said.

Along the way there have been plenty of highs but also test­ing mo­ments, none more so than in 2016.

‘‘Prob­a­bly the one that meant the most to me was in 2016 when I did my 10th one, but that year I also lost my 16-year-old nephew to epilepsy who passed away in his sleep from a seizure,’’ Doyle said.

‘‘That was very dif­fi­cult but I de­cided to set my sights on rais­ing money and aware­ness for the Epilepsy Foun­da­tion and man­aged to raise $13 000.’’

Doyle said dur­ing that har­row­ing pe­riod, run­ning acted as her ther­apy — a cop­ing mech­a­nism which took her mind away from her trou­bles and gave her fo­cus.

‘‘That was def­i­nitely the most mean­ing­ful marathon I’ve ran and the hard­est at the same time. It was very tough for the fam­ily but that’s how I dealt with it and I guess I just wanted to make a dif­fer­ence,’’ she said.

If you ask any marathon run­ner what the most chal­leng­ing as­pect of com­plet­ing the 42 km jour­ney is, most will tell you it is hit­ting the wall.

It is not a brick wall, but a psy­cho­log­i­cal one, which man­i­fests in the brain once the body reaches the point of ex­haus­tion.

For Doyle, the wall is in­escapable but not im­pos­si­ble to over­come. But you have to be ready.

‘‘You’ll hit the wall ev­ery time, so it comes down to how well you’ve trained and how well pre­pared you are for it. I think you’ve got to have a fair bit of re­spect for the marathon if you want to fin­ish it,’’ she said.

Most par­tic­i­pants would have a rough idea on when it will come, but Doyle said she al­most has it worked out to an ex­act science.

‘‘I say around the 36 km mark is about where my marathon starts be­cause that’s when it be­comes very much mind over mat­ter be­cause by then you are usu­ally feel­ing said.

In prepa­ra­tion for Sun­day, Doyle has been closely fol­low­ing her trusted train­ing pro­gram, which has served her so well down the years.

Much like a race horse, she ma­nip­u­lates her train­ing sched­ule to en­sure she peaks at the right time and ta­pers down her work load sig­nif­i­cantly as the marathon draws closer.

Once again the time has come to put her body through the rigours of yet an­other Mel­bourne Marathon. Once that is done, her fo­cus shifts to achiev­ing her next tar­get in the sport.

‘‘My ul­ti­mate goal is to do one in ev­ery state and I’ve still a got a few to go so hope­fully the legs hold out,’’ Doyle said.

To this point she has done marathon’s in Tas­ma­nia and the Gold Coast, but has her eyes firmly set on do­ing Uluru in July for the Aus­tralian Out­back Marathon.

With her steely de­ter­mi­na­tion, you cer­tainly would not put it past her. pretty well spent,’’ she

Ready to run again: Co­bram run­ner Marie Doyle is about to com­pete in her 12th Mel­bourne Marathon on Sun­day.

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