Heather’s Marathon Journey Complete

Jules Verne dreamed about travelling the world in 80 days, but Coogee’s Heather Hawkins did it in just seven! The mother-of-two and proud surf lifesaver recently completed her toughest challenge yet when she successfully finished the World Marathon Challenge last Saturday.

While most of us were contemplating the working week Heather woke up and raced 42 kilometres in Antarctica, Punta Arenas (Chile), Miami, Madrid, Marrakesh, Dubai and Sydney.

Her whirlwind journey was over in under 168 hours, and during this time she spent 35 hours pounding the course in a variety of conditions including wind, rain and heat, and even had to check her boarding pass once or twice to remember where she was.

Heather managed to finish third in the women’s division having averaged a time of 4hrs.59 minutes for each marathon– a huge achievement for someone who only took up serious running a little over three years ago.

“I have so many amazing memories and I honestly feel like I’ve been away for weeks! But I’d have to say the real highlight of the trip was sharing the experience with the other 14 runners, building friendships and seeing everyone get through!,” a tired, but happy Heather Hawkins reflected this week.

She said she was happy with how her body was able to recover between races as this was the great unknown before the challenge.

“Fortunately I didn’t sustain any injuries, and only had general muscle soreness and fatigue to deal with. My plan of sleeping and eating, stretching and wearing compression tights really worked wonders.”

Most marathon runners experience a point in a race where the doubts come in and you start to question why you put yourself through the pain. For Heather that brief moment came in the middle of the night on a quiet Moroccan street, and just as quickly the answer came. She wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

“In Marrakesh in Morocco, I remember looking at my watch and it was 2.45 am in the middle of the night. All around the city was asleep, the streets were deserted and here I was with 14 other people running 42.195 kilometres around a block with date palms!

“That’s when it really hit me that what I was doing was kind of crazy, yet kind of wonderful and I was incredibly grateful to have overcome ovarian cancer and to be alive!” she said.

The luck of the draw gave Heather a truly memorable experience to end the challenge – one that definitely inspired her over the last few torturous kilometres.

The last leg of the challenge was held at Manly; a mere stone’s throw away from her home beach of Coogee, and a fantastic opportunity for her supporters to come down and cheer her on.

Seeing a sea of red and yellow along the marathon route at Manly and having family and friends there for the final race was incredibly uplifting.

“To think that all my fellow lifesavers stayed for the whole race, for the whole night, and that they also cheered on all the runners - this was such a great example of Aussie sportsmanship and spirit!” Heather said.

From winning the North Pole Marathon to completing the World Challenge, Heather’s running journey continues to be inspirational and she has done it all with a smile on her face.

Photographs - Heather competes in the 2016 World Marathon Challenge. Crossing the finish line in Antarctica (top), running through the streets of Miami, and finishing the 42 kilometre course in Chile (bottom).

All photos courtesy of Glenn Duffus Photography

Thu 4 Feb 2016