OUR camper stayed under cover for most of this winter. We had a few short trips in between lockdowns, but our annual winter escape journey to the north didn’t happen. The only way I could travel was virtually. When I joined Run Down Under in January this year, little did I know this unique concept would keep me going during challenging times. Each month RDU provided monthly competitions to keep us motivated. August was the Points Challenge.
I was intrigued when I saw the promotion material for this challenge. First of all, the visual image of a lean athlete pushing herself powerfully forward with a big stride caught my eyes. It symbolised her intention, focus and purpose. It captured the beauty of strength so elegantly. I decided I would become an elite athlete on my own terms.
It sounded good. I’m fit for my age but definitely not a fast runner, yet I still had a chance. I really liked the words “an event with a difference”. I read on.
This Points Challenge requires dedication, accuracy and commitment for an entire month, and will most likely get you out of your comfort zone. The Run The World Points Challenge requires skills such as creative flair, confidence, ingenuity and preparation and on occasions will test both your mental and physical strength.
I already had those skills and was eager to push my boundaries for an entire month. The best part was the variety. The description promised ‘Challenges will be varied and will change from week to week as you attempt to earn as many points as you can by the end of the event on August 31’. It was perfect. I signed up straight away.
Did it get me out of my comfort zone? Sure it did. Did it test both my mental and physical strength? Yes, definitely. At the same time I enjoyed trying new things, learned many features of the Run Down Under App which I didn’t know existed, and experienced great satisfaction when I completed challenging tasks. There was something to look forward to every week and the tasks kept me motivated and accountable. There was never a dull moment in the month of August. I enjoyed the whole process immensely and had tremendous fun.
Sometimes I wished I weren’t so tenacious as I kept on attempting difficult tasks until I got it right. I persisted eight times on one occasion. At the same time I also had to learn to let go when I couldn’t complete a certain task, then move on to the next task without dwelling on it.
The hardship of the uphill climb at Mt. Misery on the windiest day, feeling exhilarated and invigorated running at the place I’d never run before (Tarwin Lower) and feeling proud as if I were Forrest Gump completing my first ever Cape Paterson to Inverloch run – there were so many memories I would cherish for many years to come.
I wouldn’t have experienced that joy, excitement, frustration, wonder and awe if I hadn’t taken on this challenge. Never question when you are intrigued about something. Follow your intuition and just go for it. I guarantee that a brand new door of opportunities will open for you.
As soon as I finished this personal quest, I was asked to lead a team of 10 people as a team captain for Run Against Violence. RAV is another virtual team challenge, running, walking the total distance of 1300 km from Broken Hill to Sydney in 19 days. Our local running group Wonthaggi Road Runners set up four teams of 10 participants each to raise awareness of domestic violence.
After a month-long individual pursuit, the contrast was immense. We formed a strong bond fairly quickly in spite of not knowing each other well before. Oh how refreshing to pursue the goal with others as a firmly united team! Every person contributed to the team with their own ability. The distance really didn’t matter. The fact that we came third out of four teams didn’t matter. We crossed the finish line and helped to raise awareness – that’s what mattered most.
On day 12 we made sure that one of our members who had suffered family violence would reach Sydney with her own run. The camaraderie we felt on the morning when we arrived in Luna Park, Sydney was truly incredible.
I will never forget the shared sense of achievement which is only felt from collective efforts by everyone. Joy truly multiplies when it is shared with other human beings.
As I reflect on the busiest seven weeks of my life this year, I’m glad I took both challenges because I have grown so much. I am a better athlete because of the path I took and committed for entire 48 days. It was truly brilliant.