At 54 years old, rescue helicopter chief pilot Trevor Wilson is tall and solid — by his own admission, he’s “built for shovelling coal”. However that hasn’t stopped the chocolate-loving grandfather embarking on the Australian Marathon Challenge. This year Trevor is running eight marathons, one in every state and territory of Australia, to push his own limits and raise money for Cystic Fibrosis — the disease that claimed the lives of his teenage nephews. He is already more than half way there and is even contemplating rounding up 2015’s marathon tally to the nice round figure of 10.
“This year I wanted to do more: I wanted to do a marathon in every state and territory. But if I was going to do that, I wanted to make it more worthwhile”
You’ve done five of the eight marathons now — how are you feeling? So far, so good (I’ve actually done six, as I snuck in LA, but I’ll tell you about that later!). I’m only aiming for sub 4:12 marathons to keep it as easy as possible. It’s not about this marathon; it’s about the next, then the next, etc. Staying uninjured and resisting the ego that wants to beat the last time are the true challenges!
You’ve done marathons in Tasmania, Canberra, Barossa Valley, Perth, and the Gold Coast — what’s been your favourite or most memorable so far? My favourite so far would probably be the Canberra Marathon. It was a nice temperature and scenery, and the course goes one way around the lake. The Gold Coast Marathon can get hot in the later part of the run due to the latish start time. Perth Marathon has a great course along the Swan River, but be careful of the bikes! Tassie — well, who wouldn’t want to finish at a chocolate factory? If there was ever an incentive to cross the line the free Freddo Frogs were!
What’s been the hardest? The hardest was Perth due to me being unwell on the day — I arrived directly from Kula Lumpa the day earlier.
What’s your best time so far? My best time was Barossa with a 4:01 without much effort — a natural improvement in time due to the amount of kilometres I’d done so far I suppose. But I certainly don’t want to go any faster due to the risk of injury. If I followed a traditional training program, I would taper prior to the event and rest fully after. If I did that then I could probably run once or twice before some of the next events, as the minimum time between a couple of them is only three weeks.
How are you feeling ahead of the Alice Springs Marathon on August 16? I’m looking forward to Alice because it looks so different in that environment. But I had also never done Tassie, ACT, WA, and SA before, so they’ve all have a level of excitement.
“Who wouldn’t want to finish at a chocolate factory? If there was ever an incentive to cross the line the free Freddo Frogs were!”
What do you enjoy about running? I am not a runner. There’s 97kg of me and, with my body size, I should be shovelling coal, not running. I don’t eat vegetables and I love chocolate and red frogs. I started running in my late 30s to control my weight and, with my transient job, it’s easiest to take a pair of runners with you. I looked for a couple of 10km events, and then lashed out for a half marathon. I love testing myself and setting goals, so obviously a marathon was around the corner. I now like to do a marathon each year and, due to my wife’s work commitments, while in the USA in 2008 I came across the Los Angeles Marathon. I loved it due to the size, atmosphere and energy of the event. I have subsequently done LA in 2013, 2014, and 2015. My running PB is 3.52 in LA (not fast — it’s that shovelling coal thing). Plus I have done a number of smaller events in northern Italy, and also the Rome Marathon.
“Essentially, do whatever works for you. If you’re not happy doing it, you won’t last, no matter what”
Tell us more about why you wanted to do the Australian Marathon Challenge. This year I wanted to do more: I wanted to do a marathon in every state and territory. But if I was going to do that, I wanted to make it more worthwhile by fundraising for charity. Hence the formation of the Australian Marathon Challenge. Some time ago my wife’s two brothers’ sons both passed away with Cystic Fibrosis before they ended their teenage years. It’s a crippling disease that effects 1 in 2,000 children — it has no cure and the results are mostly terminal. I thought, ‘What better way to remember them and support this worthy cause’. I set a $3,000 target on the fundraising page, which quickly needed to change to $5,000. I have now just passed $7,000 and would love to see it reach $10,000.
How can people help? Donate even a $1 or $2. It all adds up. The easiest way to donate is find the Australian Marathon Challenge on Facebook, which has directions to the MYCause fundraising website (or click here to go there directly).
How will you feel once the challenge is complete? I’ll be thankful to all the people who have kindly donated to support CF. Maybe I’ll also be a bit lost as to what I do next. That’s the personal challenge thing! Eight marathons, one in every state and territory, is my goal, but throwing in the ‘training marathon’ in LA has created a big problem for me — I will not risk finishing the challenge, but nine marathons is playing with my head — why not round it up to 10? I think I may need a ‘closure marathon’ after the final finish in Melbourne in October.
Any running tips you’d like to share ahead of the Townsville Marathon (August 2)? I love the Dean Karnazes’ tip. He ran 50 marathons, in 50 states in 50 days: “Listen to everyone and follow no one”. Essentially, do whatever works for you. If you’re not happy doing it, you won’t last, no matter what.
I also love night running — the new Port Access Road and Mt Stuart have both had 2am runs on them. I love the Townsville Running Festival and the scenic finish. What a great atmosphere with great people. But remember: It’s all about your own goals and challenges along the way.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention? My biggest claim to fame is being the only pilot to be shot down in Australia since WWII. As I former policeman, I got myself involved in the Hoddle Street Massacre in Melbourne in the mid 1980s where a gunman killed eight civilians. He got me in the fuel tanks, causing me to land (and hide) in a running track in Melbourne.
I have also flown for Westpac Rescue Helicopter in Lismore Northern NSW, and for the Sultanate of Oman in the Middle East for the Royal Oman Police before finally becoming chief pilot for the Queensland Government 10 years ago.
The Australian Marathon Challenge
January — Cadbury (TAS)
April — Canberra (ACT)
May — Barossa Valley (SA)
June — Perth (WA)
July — Gold Coast (QLD)
August — Alice Springs (NT)
September — Sydney (NSW)
October — Melbourne (VIC)
Follow in Trevor’s inspirational footsteps and set your own running challenge at this year’s Townsville Running Festival. Whether it’s 2.5km, 5km or more, give it a go (P.S. We wouldn’t recommend more than 5km at this stage unless you’ve been training for it — need to look after that body!)