Last year Alice Moncrieff made a promise to herself to say ‘yes’ to more things, and one of those things is running up the Blue Mountains.
One of Mount Isa’s newest running enthusiasts will join seven other local runners to participate in the Ultra Trail Australia (UTA) 50km run this Saturday May 20.
The UTA is the biggest trail running event in Australia and sells out in days, with more than 3500 competitors.
Although Moncrieff is nervous to run the longest distance of her life, she says she has had immeasurable support along the way.
Local fitness fanatic Alison Whitehead originally encouraged Moncrieff to start something she enjoyed.
“I loved cross country at school, I just loved it,” Moncrieff said.
“I like the pictures you see of these people running in beautiful places.”
Moncrieff set her sights on a slow run to start with and began training hard.
She said she started to meet more and more people with similar fitness goals and eventually lost 25 kilograms by training and focusing on her nutritional needs.
Her friends “nagged and nagged” Alice to do more and more local challenges such as the Duchess Dusk to Dawn run last year.
“I did all of Alison’s ‘Dash or Dawdle’ events last year,” Moncrieff said.
Moncrieff joined the ISARATS triathlon group where she has met a supportive bunch of athletes and friends.
“I’ve had so many people help me train, people that I would otherwise have nothing to do with.”
Alison Whitehead is joining Alice on the Ultra Trail 50km, having completed the 100km distance twice already.
Whitehead said while everyone has trained really hard, Moncrieff’s achievements are is pretty special.
“She has had an amazing journey to get to this point and I am really excited knowing that I will watch her cross that finish line in less than a week’s time,” Whitehead said.
“She is nervous and has her doubts about finishing but I have watched her determination and dedication over the last year and I know she can do this.”
At first Moncrieff says she did not quite realise how arduous the Ultra Trail trek would, and was pulled up short while trying to rope another friend into the event.
“My friend said “Hell no, have you seen the elevation?”
Moncrieff said she got over her nerves by reminding herself that she is capable.
“I thought, Alison’s not going to suggest this if she didn’t think I could do it. And that is what has kept me going.”
Training for the Ultra Trail run, Moncrieff has been running up the steps of Mount Isa’s Civic Centre at 5am each morning.
Moncrieff said that anyone can achieve a big goal like this, and it doesn’t matter what pace they go at.
“I’m always the last in the group, I’m the little turtle at the back.”
“But it’s a great running group, they just run back to you. They are all so positive – it didn’t matter that I was overweight, it didn’t matter that I was the slowest or I made them run further because they had to run back to me,” she said.
“If I’m not there one week they say “where were you?” So they really care,” Moncrieff said.
“I’ve had people all along the way, cheering me on."
“I’m absolutely petrified, but I want to be at that finish line because it’s going to be amazing,” she said.
Moncrieff is doing the race with her ‘yes friend’ Karlyn, who has been with her every step of the way.
Also joining her is husband Shane, who reminded her she will not be able to keep stopping to take photos of the scenery.
She plans to head back to the Blue Mountains next year to help and encourage other friends to complete the event.