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Pace Athletic UTA22 Race Report - Evadne Janeke

6 Dec 2018

The journey to Pace UTA22 started a while ago. A long time casual runner I had done a few road races, nothing too serious, but was finally compelled to take on a full marathon. If there was ever a time, it was 2017 in Sydney. I had a reason to run…not that I needed one – but a goal, a drive deep inside. My mother’s diagnosis with motor neurone disease in Jan last year kicked me into gear…but I went too hard too fast – with a month to go I was ruled out by two physios. My eyes welled up “but I HAVE to run, I have done fundraising for my mother” – the physio told me the pressure to run often overwhelms runners, it’s a common to feel devasted when your body lets you down. I fell off the wagon and did very little for quite some time. A girlfriend then kicked me into gear… “May is a long time away, lets sign up for Pace UTA22 and you’ll have a while to work on your hammy”.

So, we were on; 4 x 35+ friends on a mission to the Blue Mountains. No fundraising this time, just getting to the start line was my goal. Mum was deteriorating having lost her ability to speak/eat last year, and her body weakening, but cognitively absolutely on the ball. I decided I wanted to be with her and my family for her birthday (April 29th), so booked a fight to the UK and spent a wonderful week with her at home. Clearly this coincided with the final training for Pace UTA22.

Each morning I would sit and chat to her whilst my father got ready for the day and in between closing her eyes to snooze she would look at me in the eyes and motion with running fingers that I needed to go training (which I did when dad was ready to take over from me). She was relentless with her coaching/mothering, so I had no excuses. Dad helped me map out the hilliest routes (I haven’t lived in the UK for 9 years) and the weather typically wasn’t kind – but the fresh Somerset air helped my heart and cleared my head. I didn’t know it was possible to run and cry, but it is.

Back in Australia with less than 2 weeks till race day. We were excited – a girl’s weekend away, a friend’s birthday, a big race! Thursday night we drove into town to get our numbers… and then a call. My six-year-old had broken his arm and required surgery – more tears (from me). Husband overseas…race day in the morning. The doctors agreed to hold off surgery until first thing Saturday morning when both my husband and I could be there. Phew… I nearly didn’t get to the start line again….
The race was breathtaking. Tough, relentless, hilly (!) and emotional. There I was, in the mountains, running my little heart out thinking of mum’s running fingers – just – keep – going – legs. I think I actually spoke at my legs at some point on the Furber Steps and told them to not let me down! Completing Pace UTA22 was a massive achievement for me, the buzz amongst fellow competitors was palpable.

Time to celebrate. After a shower we headed into town to buy (proper) champagne, back to a roaring fire, shared elation and smiles; the next blow floored me. I heard from dad that mum had just died… She had waited until I had finished and whilst I hadn’t sent a message to say that I was safe and sound (it was early morning in the UK) – I like to think she knew.

My mother’s running fingers, Pace UTA22, and May 18th 2018 will be etched into to my mind forever, just like her handwriting on my arm.