Never say never – a supporter’s story

Richard Bland is a passionate IMP supporter who ran in the 2014 Gold Coast Marathon on behalf of IMP. This is his story.

Four years ago, a friend of mine told me she was training to run a marathon.

I told her she was crazy and that I had no interest in ever running a marathon – nothing about the experience appealed to me at all!

It is now 2014.

I have run three marathons and most recently completed the Gold Coast Marathon in July 2014 fundraising for IMP. I can safely say that running has changed my life for the better.

Initially my main motivation for getting into running was to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. During my teenage years and early 20s, I was very active and participated in many team sports, but as I got older, I became less and less active. When I reached my 30s, I decided it was time to change and through the support of my wife, I took up running.

I was also very lucky to find a running coach, Raf Baugh, who was able to unlock the potential runner in me through a well structured training programme.

My first marathon was a mixture of physical and mental highs and lows, pain and suffering, and emotional elation.

When I crossed the final line I just remember the immense feeling of achievement and being totally emotionally overwhelmed – there is nothing quite like finishing your first marathon.

I first became aware of IMP after watching the “Running to America” documentary on ABC.

I found the story of these young Indigenous athletes training to run the New York Marathon totally inspirational.

Having been through the emotional journey of completing a marathon, I truly empathised with these athletes as they crossed the finish line in New York and can understand what an awesome sense of achievement they would have felt.

In my previous two marathons I did not choose to fundraise for any organisation, I was really just doing the marathon for myself.

This year I started training to run the Gold Coast Marathon and decided it was time I gave something back. Running has had such an amazing impact on my life and hopefully has been an inspiration for my friends and family. This is what I think IMP is all about – inspiring young people to achieve goals they thought were not possible and to use this to encourage and motivate their friends and family to develop and improve themselves.

Like most people, I lead a busy life and work long hours, so finding time to train is always a challenge.

My training for the Gold Coast Marathon this year has certainly been the most challenging. I work six days a week on a major construction project just outside Darwin, with my day beginning at 5am and finishing at 6pm.

Training for a marathon during the hot and humid wet season in Darwin is also certainly not ideal, but marathon training is all about consistency and routine – and for myself this time ‘round, learning to love the treadmill!

My toughest training runs ever were completed this year running 30km on a treadmill inside a sweaty 24hr Darwin gym.

Consuming more than four litres of water during the 30km run, battling the mental boredom and dealing with the strange looks from gym users on what this crazy guy was doing running for nearly three hours on a treadmill!

However all the training must have paid off, I finished the Gold Coast Marathon in 04:03:23, a 10min improvement on my previous best, and managed to raise $1630 for IMP.

I am not a natural runner, or a particularly fast runner, but what I have learnt is anyone can be a runner, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve through perseverance, commitment, discipline and willingness to give it a go.

So get out there, start running and give something back by supporting IMP!

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Crossing the line of the Gold Coast Marathon!                                                            Richard with his Marathon finisher’s medal