Family 101: Margaret River Ultra Marathon & Relay

Family 101: Margaret River Ultra Marathon & Relay
It occurred to me sometime over the week that I was in Margaret River, Western Australia that despite the fact that I have now completed over 30 ultra events all over the World including 5 World Championships running one is something my immediate family my sisters, and Mum and Dad and co had never experienced first hand with me. They have always followed me and I have felt their support whenever I have competed in the big events overseas but this time they were right there and as a team got to run with me along the way.
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Sisters doing it for themselves.  Alison Kidman (top) and Josie Kidman who ran two legs a total of 36km. 
When I made the decision to run the inaugural Margaret River Ultra Marathon they very quickly agreed to form a team just because I was doing it too. So my Mum, Josie Kidman an Aunt, Alison Kidman who both ran their first marathon at the age of 59 and my little sisters Georgia Kidman and Marcia Norrish who’s longest events have been a half marathon formed the team ‘Just Kidding’. No one had any idea how hard it would be. We did over the weekend between us run 101 miles.  I’m not kidding.
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Coming into Checkpoint 3 seriously hoping Bethaney remembered I wanted an Iced Coffee here.  I got it.  Awesome work Bethaney.
There was quite a bit of discussion on who would do which leg. Georgia took the first forest section, Josie took over from her, Marcia took on the rock hopping role, Alison took over for a long stretch of sandy beach running and Josie ran 2 legs covering a total of 36km on the day and had to run for a while in the dark to finish.
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Bethaney did a great job of crewing, always there in plenty of time with everything I might need.
Lots of great memories were made and as hard as it was , slogging into a headwind in soft sand for what feels like ages, sand and more sand, rocky cliffs to climb a scary chasm of water to leap across I am sure no one regrets it. We are not a family who shies away from a challenge and I think we all have Grandpa Andrew to thank for numerous rambles through some of the most amazing terrain on offer in Western Australia. My dad also used to take us on adventures driving a 2 wheel car on tracks better suited to a 4WD in search of disused mine shafts or just to see what was there. I’ve spent many a day exploring granite outcrops and scaling random peaks and picnics of polony sandwiches. Ugh.  I didn’t even mind when my Dad attempted to ease the cramp when I sat down at Checkpoint 4 to empty out my shoes and he vigorously rubbed my calf instead of my thigh.
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My niece Brooke getting ready for the Kids run on Sunday morning. Proud Aunty here
I have a new appreciation that these adventures which I thought was something everyone did and perhaps something I took for granted, I have great respect as a consequence for the natural world and a sense of adventure. To never hesitate to take every opportunity to travel and explore.
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Pocket Rocket Mallani who finished 4th female and 2nd in her category.  Great stuff Mallani. Note it’s not a beach but there is still soft sand to run in.  Amazing scenery though.
It wasn’t just my immediate family that were there in force.  My running sisterhood from Brisbane were there too.  There was a large contingent of the Brisbane Trail Running community and I was excited they were going to experience all that the South West has to offer I’m not sure they feel the same about the soft sand running, very different to what we have in South East Queensland.  The following ladies who I’ve spent a lot of time drinking coffee and running with certainly did Queensland proud Mallani Maloney, Jaimi Greenslade, Raquel Warren, Cheryl Court and Deb Zigenbine.

Moving Forward, Always with Purpose

Moving Forward, Always with Purpose

I’ve represented Australia five times with pride as an ultra runner. I currently hold an Australian Record for 100 miles.  At the youthful age of 46 I could be content with these accomplishments.  I’m not.  I have the determination and desire to do it at least one more time.  I want to prove that Breast Cancer at the age of 44 did not get the better of me.

On Christmas Eve while out on an annual traditional run with my running club I had a less than courteous encounter with a runner unknown to me.   I was down right rude, I actually swore.  I immediately felt remorse but the opportunity to apologise had passed.  It was behaviour so unlike me, I couldn’t explain it at the time and it took some weeks before the penny dropped.

That low in December carried through into the new year. I was functioning in the real world but only just.  I was prone to bouts of depression and I was hard to live with.   I survived thanks to my running. Despite it feeling really hard and even harder in the heat and humidity here in Brisbane I craved the company of my running friends where I could tag along often just slipping through the forest, one foot after the other, running in the company of friends, nature, the chatter, the easy silence and coffee afterwards the best type of therapy.

I recently wrote about road blocks.  I had identified that the chemotherapy medication I was taking to reduce the risk of my Breast Cancer returning was what had been holding me back, both mentally and physically in my running.  I sought the advice of my Oncologist and we agreed that the best way forward for my personal situation was to stop taking it.  For someone who was so fit and healthy before the diagnosis the side effects of such a drug were really noticeable.  It was a relief to find that the risk in my case due to my health and physical activity was low and for my long term well being the decision was easy.  I was advised that it can take a few months for things to improve and I am happy to say they have.

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My family L-R Gordon (Dad), sister Marcia, (sister) Bethaney (bride), Roger (groom), me, Georgia (sister) and Josie (Mum).
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The people who have put up with a LOT my son Cale (gun XC runner and hockey player), me, husband Tim (sub 3 hour marathoner) and daughter Kira (going to run a half marathon when she turns 21).

A quick trip to the Albany in Western Australia for an event leading into my sisters wedding and my Mum’s 65th birthday was a great distraction and the opportunity to run in some much cooler conditions a great relief.  March brought a commitment as a volunteer, a Games Shaper at the Commonwealth Games and April more Commonwealth Games highlights and a family holiday in Singapore for my sisters wedding and I continued to train with purpose. More running in some different places.  I explored trails at the Mac Ritchie Reservoir in Singapore and the monkeys came out to play but the breakthrough was at parkrun East Coast Park Singapore.  It was there despite the heat and humidity and some long days on the feet I managed a credible 2nd place in 23 minutes or so.  A significant improvement (4 minutes) on my parkrun personal worst in January in similar conditions.

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parkrun East Coast Park Singapore, a family outing and we weren’t the only Aussies in Singapore there either.

I adjusted my ambitious running plans in February and settled for now for events that I considered more ‘fun’.  So it is with some excitement that I am now finalising my plans for a trip to Western Australia’s wine country for the inaugural Margaret River Ultra.  I’m excited to be traveling with friends from Queensland I can’t wait for them to see the magnificent South West for themselves.   I’m race ambassador at the Darkness to Daylight Challenge in May and I am returning to the Whitsundays in August for a trail ultra.  All good fun.

During these tough times I’ve drawn much of my inspiration from the athletes I coach.  I’m grateful for their patience from time to time when I haven’t completely had my shit together.  I live vicariously through their successes and my heart goes out to them when things don’t quite go to plan.  But we are always learning.  Learning what it is to be human, to be humble, to be proud, to celebrate our achievements, to plan, to fall and get up again. to take pleasure in the simple things and to leap for joy.  That success requires hard work, determination, perseverance and most of all patience.

Hurry up already.