After I completed the London Marathon in April the inevitable question which people began to ask me was ‘what’s next then Alice?’ The big ‘next’ was actually a place in the Liverpool Marathon four weeks later, but I kept this under wraps and gave slightly vague answers instead – apologies! The ‘what next’ question has now started to crop up again; people know me well enough to realise that there will be something else running related in the pipeline! And there is – something pretty special to be honest.
I will not beat around the bush (slight pun intended); I am going to Australia, where I hope to complete the Sydney Marathon. Flying literally to the other side of the world to run 26.2 miles may seem like a new level of madness, but for once in my life this trip is about much more than just a running…
Roughly two and half years ago my best friend moved to Australia. Saying goodbye to Maaike was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, it was heart-breaking knowing that someone so close to me would now be so far away. Our lives had been entwined in so many ways, not only did we have our friendship, but we had been housemates, colleagues, training partners and, of course, running buddies. Seeing Maaike leave was a difficult set of emotions; a raw mix of pain and sadness, but also happiness that she was getting this amazing opportunity that I knew she really wanted. Maaike brought out the best in me, and still does! Her visit back to the UK last year was like we had never been apart, and I know whatever happens in life she will always be there for me, no matter the distance, as I will be for her.
The day Maaike left Lincoln I promised her I would come and visit her in Australia, and whilst it has been a very difficult promise to make happen, I never intended to break it. My previous job saw me restricted to school holidays for annual leave, and even then I had summer holiday residential programmes to deliver. In the minimal free time I had left flight prices were sky high (another slightly intended pun) and it was a trip proving a challenge to make a reality. I think at times Maaike herself questioned if I ever would come. However, starting a new job, working for an understanding employer who has permitted me a lengthy annual leave block, combined with my now overwhelming desire to visit my friend and experience her Aussie life, my flights are firmly booked.
Whenever I went to Australia I think it was only natural that I would have looked for some form of running event to do – it is what I love after all, and the bonus is Maaike loves it too! It was actually Maaike who mentioned the Sydney Marathon to me, and I was instantly sold. This would be a once in a lifetime race, and I am still hopeful I may be able persuade Maaike to run it with me! I would love to share a marathon with her, if not this time, sometime. I am not massively well travelled so the fact I am actually going to Australia still has not really sunk in. To run a marathon there, hopefully my 8th marathon, just feels simply surreal.
However, I go back to my original point. The marathon is not the sole purpose of this trip by any means. I have no goals or expectations of the race other than to relish the entire experience. I am going to train hard as always, because I would not have it any other way, and the ironic thing is I have probably already run 26.2 miles in hotter conditions in the UK this year, with both London and Liverpool being held in 22-25 degree heats! When I land ‘down under’ I will however have around two and half weeks in Australia before race day on Sunday 16th September – I will not be spending these days chained to a chair resting and focusing on nothing else bar the 26.2 miles I will be running. I want to explore and create memories with my best friend, I do not care how or if this will impact how quick I can complete the race, some things are just more important than times.
So the answer to the ‘what next?’ question is Sydney Marathon, or perhaps more accurately Australia to visit my best friend.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...