The First Time at the finish line

Four people picked out of the blue with one common goal: to run the Medibank Melbourne Marathon.

Giggling and glancing about nervously, Stephen, Erika, Elliot and Claire were a bundle of jiggling knees and last minute toilet stops as they made their way to the start line; but all concerns were forgotten as the music became louder and the crowds became bigger. With their bibs clipped on and legs stretched, they took off around 8am on a journey that has been much, much longer than 21km.

The boys stretching out after the race. Good pain! Good pain!

It seems much longer than just four weeks ago that we bundled together a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, bound by only one thing: the fact that they agreed to run the Melbourne Marathon for The First Time. Our team came from four very different worlds – Elliot, Sydney lawyer-turned-comms-man; Claire, well-known comedienne; Erika, a 25-year-old business mogul; and Stephen, a Scottish expat writer. Together they pledged to make the move from the edge of the couch to the edge of the running track as they took on a journey that would leave them with so much more than a great set of quads.

The four weeks of training were testing. There were early mornings and early nights (we can’t decide what’s more difficult), resisting temptation, and pushing their bodies to new limits. With the help of weekly personal training sessions and new diet plans, our team underwent a lifestyle overhaul that has us all inspired. A few less cookies, a few more kilometres, and four average Aussies carried themselves 21km further than they ever have before.

YES! Stephen was on top of the world after running his very first half-marathon.

When we caught up with them after the race, our team was humming with endorphins. Stephen and Erika both agreed that the energy of their fellow runners was what pushed them forward, with Claire – who had never run over 11km at once in her life – credits the cheers of the crowd as what got her over the line.

Speaking of getting over the line, what a moment that was for our team. Stephen was in complete shock as he realised what he had just accomplished: “Wow…amazing! My legs will be shaking for days!” Erika surprised herself by feeling quite emotional as she neared the finish line, watching all of the family and friends who had gathered to cheer on their loved ones – but mostly overjoyed that she smashed her 2hr 15min time goal. Caught up in the action, Claire didn’t notice her body struggling, but as soon as she stopped, “…my baby hips are hurting!” Elliot was hurting too – “That was bloody hard… much harder than I thought it would be…”– but aware of his accomplishment, “…thank you for making me do that.”

Our team of First Timers: hot, sweaty and pretty proud of themselves.

Following the race Elliot ducked into the Medibank tent for a quick massage following the race, and noted that his afternoon was going to be about relaxing before he heads home to Sydney and dog Sammy. Not Stephen, however, whose impressed friends organised a congratulatory BBQ (and champagne) on the beach for the afternoon. Whatever their plans, it will be a while before the post-First Time glow will fade for these happy four.

And, because no race is fun with a little friendly competition, let’s finish with their results…

ELLIOT led the pack with a fantastic 1 hour 58 minutes, coming in at overall number #3,223. ERIKA was close behind with 2 hours 12 minutes (achieving her goal!) putting her at #6,027. Only three minutes later was STEPHEN at 2 hours 15 minutes, placing him at #6,455. Finishing up our team was CLAIRE at 2 hours 35 minutes, ending at #8,598. These are all incredible results by any standards – particularly for a team of First Timers.

Congratulations Elliot, Stephen, Claire and Erika. Thank you for showing us that you can indeed teach old dogs new tricks, and that getting off the couch is as easy as… getting off the couch.

When was the last time you tried something for The First Time?


See the full journey at thefirsttime.com.au

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