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Author: Rachel Hickey (interviewer) Date Posted: 5 May 2022
It's time for some ultra-special women, today you'll meet Kelly and Challise. Read about their challenges, achievements and upcoming goals in completing ultras.
Kelly Marwick: @my_best_trailrun_life
What is your sport/exercise of choice?
Ultra running. I started running in 2011 after the birth of my second child. I ran on and off for years but only started training for ultras a year after the birth of my third child in 2016. One of the main reasons I started running originally was to have some time just for myself. Also, I thought it would be a lot cheaper than a gym membership… Haha! Ultra running is amazing! Being able to spend hours and hours outdoors and experiencing nature at its finest, all year round is so exhilarating. There’s nothing like coming home at the end of a long day out on the trails. You are absolutely spent, yet still riding the adrenaline high. Even the shorter runs (road or trail) are enough to get you out of a bad mood and give you extra energy. It’s a mood enhancer for sure. For me, I need running so I can be the best person I can be.
How many children do you have?
I have 3 children. My oldest daughter Alexis is 12, my second daughter Milla is 11 and my son Lennon is 5.
What challenges have you faced as a mother in regards to your fitness/exercise?
Depending on what event you’re training for, it can certainly take away time with the family. At times I have felt guilty, leaving home before the kids are awake and returning at the very end of the day. I have also felt guilty that my partner has had to do everything for the kids while I’ve been running. It has stopped me training for events I would have liked to do when the kids were younger, and I’ve definitely limited the number of events I do per year. But as the kids get older, it gets much easier. I can now do the majority of my training while they’re at school.
How have you overcome this challenge?
Limiting the number of events I do per year, choosing events more wisely (shorter distance or less technical), so the volume of training is not as high. Telling the kids I’m going to live forever because of all the running I do, haha!! And making the most of the time we spend together during the ‘non-training’ cycles
What has been your greatest achievement in your sport/exercise?
Last year I got first place female (5th overall), in the Lighthorse Ultra Marathon 24hr event with a distance of 179.74kms. I wish my Garmin hadn’t died at 176km so I knew how close I was to 180km! I definitely could have gotten that extra 260 metres! Also, I started a run streak challenge on January 1st last year, with the aim to run every day for a year. I’m happy to say I achieved that and have continued it into this year. I can’t see myself wanting to end that any time soon.
How do you incorporate exercise into your daily/weekly routine?
I get up at 4:30 every morning and run anywhere between 10-16km before getting the kids up and ready for school. I just love the mornings and watching the sunrise over the water and/or trails. I have the luxury of not working at the moment, so any extra training I do is while the kids are at school. I usually do another shorter run, or walk during the day. In the thick of ultra training, I will spend an extra few hours running. At the moment I’m working on a lot more strength training, rather than kms, plus I like to do yoga/stretching a couple of times per week.
Do your children have any involvement in your exercise/sport?
Unfortunately my children are not all that keen on running. My partner jokes that the time I spend running probably puts them off! When my girls were a bit younger they were keen to run with me, but not so much anymore. I’m not giving up though! I still try to get them to come on walks with me and if we can throw in a short jog every now and then, I feel like I’m winning :)
Do you have any future goals?
This year I’m going to try and beat my distance PB at the 24hr Track Ultra in Bunbury. It’s something a bit different, running for 24 hours on a 400m track, but I’m up for it! I also want to continue my run streak for as long as possible.
What advice would you give to any mothers wanting more physical activity but may be unsure as to where to start?
I think the first step is to just do it. Try to not even think about it. Put on your shoes and walk out the door. Because I can guarantee that once you’re out there, you won’t want to turn around and go back inside. Making it a habit is the hardest, but ultimately the best thing you can do for yourself. It stops becoming a chore and starts to become something you don’t just want, but need to do. I believe this is the same for anything - fitness related or not.
Another piece of advice (this one running related), is to not start out fast! Running doesn’t need to be a flat out, totally breathless and uncomfortable experience. Do a slow jog, walk when you want to, make it as comfortable as you like. Speed will come in time (if that’s what you want). And finally - this is the hardest thing and something I’m still learning - don’t compare yourself to others. There will ALWAYS be people who are fitter, faster and can run further. This journey is all yours. Oh, and one more thing - don’t underestimate your ability to inspire others. Because you will :-)
How do you recommend getting into running?
I always wanted to be a runner, but never thought I could. I tried to start many times and always gave up pretty quickly. I now know I was doing it all wrong! So I love it when people ask me how they can start running.
Anything you would like to add?
Something that might help to keep people motivated is Run The World. You log all your walking/running kms and do a virtual ‘run around’ a choice of countries. It’s pretty cool, making your way around a country. Every time you reach certain towns/cities (or milestones), you get some information on the town or even a memento. I’m currently doing Run Around USA. https://www.runsoftheworld.com/
Challise Curgenven: @the.runner.mumma
I love to run and try to incorporate a minimum 5km run into my daily routine, with a longer, 20km+ run on the weekends. I really enjoy long distance running and regularly train for marathon and ultra distance events as the body permits!
I started running around 5 years ago after being struck down with acute neurological illness. I found the rhythm and routine of the sport very comforting and the community very welcoming and I just became immersed in the sport very quickly. I find that running gives me both a great sense of space and comfort.
I have 3 wonderful children - Jacob aged 13, Hope 10 and Theo aged 6.
Like most mothers I think we are programmed to be very conscious of our activities being somewhat down the list as opposed to those of the rest of the family. As I’ve become involved in more competitive events involving long training hours or participating in multi-day activities, I’ve sometimes felt the ‘mother’s guilt’ of not being at home or being present. However, as a family we have also learned about what brings joy to us as individuals and how that benefits us all as a collective family unit and what we all gain from that.
I generally adapt long training runs around my family for when they are sleeping or we involve the family as much as we can in hiking adventures for time on our feet. Our eldest child has a lower limb disability so is restricted in long distance activities but enjoys smaller activities and my husband enjoys long hikes with climbing options so we find this is a great time to send the kids off to the grandparents and have some time out for the two of us.
I have had a few for a couple of different reasons. Completing my first 100km ultra 9 weeks after having most of my thyroid removed. Knocking out a half marathon 10 weeks after a total hysterectomy. Coming 3rd in the RiverRun100 midnight 50km (my first and possibly only placing). Completing 136km in the 24hr track ultra, doing half of it in a pair of socks and slides! Meeting 3 strangers and forming a team to complete the 96km Kokoda Challenge and now having some of the best life long friends I could have ever met.
As I have a medical condition, I make my exercise a ‘health priority’ and as soon as the children are off to school for the day, I aim to knock out my daily activity.
I regularly take my children along on hikes and climbs, and allow them to create adventures where we explore the surfaces and wildlife and plants. Don’t get me wrong, there is mostly a LOT of complaining and I spend a lot of time wondering why I bother (haha!) but it’s nice when I hear them telling people about when they did a certain thing or went to a certain place, I do feel that they get a lot out of it and maybe as they grow they will have that foundational interest in the outdoors.
For the last 2 years I have been trying to get to a 48 hour ultra, however due to my difficulties in controlling my medical condition RHS I have been unable to get there yet so I am crossing everything that it’s going to happen SOON! I am very keen to tick off the 100 mile and 200km boxes for my running so - watch this space!
Start somewhere. Set a small goal. If it’s to walk to the end of your street, make that your goal. Then go to the street around the corner. And then just keep adding on. Grab a friend. Create a habit. Be proud ❤
Celebrate all of your adventures. We started a page @activechixtrails where we celebrate women’s outdoor adventures - we don’t care about time, distance, etc - we just get ladies to share where they adventured - they love it