Have you ever marvelled at those who can run a marathon? How about three of them in three consecutive days? We caught up with some of the brave Townsville endurance runners who are heading to Cairns this week to conquer the challenging, technical and mostly off-road Three Marathons in Three Days (3M3D). With ages ranging from thirties to fifties, you’ll see that these Goers are all lacing-up for different reasons.
Mark Dowel, 49
Occupation: Senior blasting technical services engineer.
Number of years running: Two-and-a-half.
Proudest running achievement to-date: Running my first 10km non-stop.
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? I heard about it from members of Townsville Road Runners who had competed in the 3M3D, so I thought it might be a good event to challenge myself.
What are you most looking forward to about the three-day-event? Finishing!
What aspect will be the most challenging? Getting up the next morning and doing it again…. and again!
Which day will be the most testing? Possibly the second day as you are already fatigued after the previous day with the realisation you have to do it again tomorrow.
Next marathon: Melbourne marathon in October, plus I’ll do a nice short half marathon in Townsville in August.
Best running tip: Put one foot in front of the other and repeat.
“I’ve always been highly competitive, but this isn’t that sort of event — it’s basically to pit an individual against themselves in order to overcome themselves” – Tony Gordon
Tony Gordon, 30
Occupation: Motor mechanic, chef and Townsville Road Runners president.
Number of years running: 15.
Proudest running achievement to-date: Getting second. Of all the wins over the years, the best, most memorable occasions, I have walked off with silver. This happened twice representing Australia and once after completing the last 3km of a half marathon with a fractured tibia. Oh, and I was second to local legend Max Fegan in my first half marathon at the age of 16 at the Townsville Running Festival.
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? Progression. It looked like a dumb idea and I had to have a crack.
What are you most looking forward to about the three-day-event? I’m not entirely sure what to expect. As my best friend says, “Your outlook on the event, running, your entire existence… it’s all going to change one thousand times throughout the event”. I can admit that I’m most eager to be looking back and saying “job done”… whatever that means.
What aspect will be the most challenging? The unknown — I’m a control freak.
Which day will be the most testing? Day one. Or this week leading in to it. Within the first hour of racing I’ll know if I have a shot at the podium, which — if it presents itself — I will surely take a chance at with both hands. I’ve always been highly competitive, but this isn’t that sort of event — it’s basically to pit an individual against themselves in order to overcome themselves, unlike a track event where the aim is to dominate and outthink others. Once we are under way I think I’ll settle somewhat.
Next marathon: Townsville Running Festival. I won’t be racing though — just basking in the atmosphere and getting one year closer to the 10 Year Club [after a competitor has completed 10 Townsville marathons they are presented with their own permanent marathon number bib].
Best running tip: Get inspired. By anything: By books, movies, history, people, and the size off the mountain out of your back window. Watch ‘Cool Runnings’ and then go out and be the hero of your own story.
Dee Flynn-Pittar, 51
Number of years running: About 15. I started running along the Port Douglas beach every evening when my four kids were young — the kids were on their bikes next to me. I did my first club run about eight years ago; I did my first marathon three years ago, and — since then — I have completed 10 marathons (three of those as the final leg of an Ironman with 180km bike ride as a warm up).
Proudest running achievement to-date: I think finishing my first full Ironman in Cairns two years ago was my proudest moment. I’m a pretty average runner and a really lousy swimmer and only started to ride three years ago, so getting to the finish line was amazing and having my son there to cheer me on made it worth the effort. I’ve been back every year since for more and this year scored a podium finish with a second in my age group — quite a surprise.
“I am just an average mother who likes to do challenging stuff to annoy her grown up children — it’s good to have them worry about me for a change” – Dee Flynn-Pittar
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? I love a good challenge — a personal challenge — and I love running so the two appealed to me. I was particularly drawn to the fact that it’s all trail runs. We live in the perfect world here and it’s good to be out there embracing that. I was a bit hesitant because I did The North Face 50 [50km trail run in the Blue Mountains] in May and Cairns Ironman in June so I had no time to do any specific training, but then I decided it was an even better challenge. I am just an average mother who likes to do challenging stuff to annoy her grown up children — it’s good to have them worry about me for a change.
What aspect will be the most challenging? I’ve been dancing around a calf injury all year so that’s something that can hold you back from just letting lose through the bush. Secondly, not having trained specifically for this will always mean it’s going to be hard.
Which day will be the most testing? I think getting through day two might be the most challenging when your legs have nothing and you know you still have a long way to go and the brain games begin. By day three you are used to that tired feeling and it should be fine.
Next marathon: Maybe Townsville marathon, plus also Sam Stedman’s Mount Marlow Marathon at Pallarenda, but definitely the Busselton Ironman in December. I always find it easier to get through a marathon at the end of an Ironman because the pace is less frantic and you are well and truly warmed up and ready to go.
Best running tip: Never make your race about anyone else or about a number on a watch. Run for yourself and always be proud to finish no matter what. We are very time-focused in Australia when it comes to running and that puts a lot of people off competing in these events. We will be running on some very beautiful trails and it will be so good to soak in the world around us through the run.
Bernie Norris, 42
Occupation: Warehouse supervisor.
Number of years running: 18.
Proudest running achievement to-date: Running 109km in the Sri Chinmoy 12-hour race (on a running track) in 2010.
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? Why not? It’s an interesting slogan for life! The 3M3D will be my 22nd, 23rd and 24th marathon. I have run marathons in Australia, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
What are you most looking forward to about the three-day-event? The camaraderie.
What aspect will be the most challenging? The hills.
Which day will be the most testing? Day two because it has the ‘big climb’ in it.
Next marathon: Townsville Running Festival marathon, which will be my 11th Townsville marathon.
Best running tip: Listen to your body. You start a race to finish a race. Also, get your family involved — in the shorter Townsville Road Runners events I’ll push two of my girls in the pram, while the other two run and ride next to me. They love it.
Colleen Newnham, 46
Number of years running: Four.
Proudest running achievement to-date: Receiving a (very unexpected) qualifying letter of invitation to the 2015 Columbia Triple Challenge (multi-sport) in South Africa as a result of competing the 2014 Magnetic Island Adventurethon where the run component was hot, hilly and hard!
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? Peer pressure and because I ran out of excuses why I couldn’t!
What are you most looking forward to about the three-day-event? The scenery. If I’m going to be out there for a long time, the scenery will keep me going.
“The first day will be an adrenaline rush and it will be exciting to be there; on the third day I’ll be looking forward to the final finish line, but the second day will be a mind game” – Colleen Newnham
What aspect will be the most challenging? My body convincing my brain to keep going!
Which day will be the most testing? Day two. The first day will be an adrenaline rush and it will be exciting to be there; on the third day I’ll be looking forward to the final finish line, but the second day will be a mind game.
Next marathon: Let’s get through my first three and see how we go from there! Having said that, Outer Limits has a great local trail running series, which I may get tempted by…
Best running tip: Enough of the excuses: Put your shoes on. Start moving.
Phil Copp, 49
Occupation: Technical officer.
Number of years running: Eight.
Proudest running achievement to-date: My first marathon in 2011 at the Townsville Running Festival — I was sixth overall (the fifth male and won my age group) in a time of 3:04:16.
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? Having always been a runner, and completing a number of marathons and long distance triathlons recently including an Ironman, it was the next big personal challenge for me.
What are you most looking forward to about the three-day-event? The reward and sense of personal achievement after finishing such a demanding feat. And the big bling medal!
What aspect will be the most challenging? The three races are all on trails with significant elevation changes, so — in short — the HILLS.
Which day will be the most testing? Bit unknown, but I’m thinking the second day with big relentless hills and fatigued legs after the first day — the third day is a bit flatter with more downhill into Cairns.
Next marathon: Townsville Running Festival marathon. This will be my fifth — I’m aiming for the 10 Year Club.
Best running tip: Join a running club (insert Townsville Road Runners plug!): You will learn so much, as I did. But most of all; enjoy your running — if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.
Toni Ferguson, 48
Occupation: IT support.
Number of years running: 36.
Proudest running achievement to-date: Winning the title of Regional Junior Cross Country Champion.
Why did you sign-up to 3M3D? I’ve been keen to do it for a couple of years now. It’s something different — I love trails and I love a challenge. If it were a three-day road race, I wouldn’t have considered it!
What are you most looking forward to about the three-day-event? Running through some countryside I’ve never seen before but, mostly, seeing the finish line on the last day and getting that well-earned medal around my neck!
What aspect will be the most challenging? Backing up each race with another one the next day.
Which day will be the most testing? For me, I think day three will be the most testing — it has 14km of downhill on the road. I really dislike downhill, especially on the road. Considering I would have already run two marathons the previous two days, I think it’s going to hurt.
Next marathon: My next marathon will be Townsville, but I am using this as a training run in the lead up to my main focus which is the Sunshine Coast marathon on August 30.
Best running tip: Listen to your body: If you have a niggle, make sure you rest and treat it.
P.S. Adrian Garnett is joining the Townsville contingency for 3M3D too, but couldn’t make it along – we wish Adrian good luck too!
You can find out more about Three Marathons in Three Days here. If you’re inspired to run and can’t wait till next year, next month is the Townsville Running Festival. Regardless of whether you are running marathons, or jogging a few hundred metres; this iconic locally-grown event has something for everyone.
From the 2.5km Hero Run to the 5km adult fun run and walk, 5km junior run or 5km corporate challenge; to the 10km, 21km and marathon events; you can get involved and achieve your goals. For more information and to register see here: townsvillerunningfestival.com.