My name is Paige. I come from Stanwell Park, a small town on the east coast of Australia. I live a couple of hundred metres from the beach and a bushy escarpment makes an amphitheatre around us. Every single day I breathe clean, salty air and tread on healthy tree roots.
As a kid, I never liked running because I was slow. I hated it. I came last in every cross country during primary school and avoided it all together whenever I could. After my first year of high school, cross country was not compulsory and let’s just say I wasn’t unhappy about it. In 2017, my final year of school, I gave it one last go and made it through three levels to the State Championships. The only thing that even came close to any sort of training around these races was walking up the escarpment with my Dad and rock-hopping back down a few times a week.
In January 2018, I enlisted into the Royal Australian Air Force. The first 11 weeks consisted of basic military training. Alongside tyre flipping, carrying ammunition boxes, leopard crawling and obstacle courses, track sessions formed a major part of our physical training. I found that I was keeping up with the 6-foot-tall guys – especially during longer efforts or in the last reps when their endurance waned.
I decided to give running a shot and started to run before training in the morning. One lap of the airbase was 5km. I started Parkrun when I got more time off on the weekends. When I was moved up to Brisbane, I stuck to the treadmill in the mornings before work not wanting to risk running into any of the working dogs under training in the dark. On the weekends I’d find a mountain to hike up before belting back down.
When I left the RAAF and moved home to start uni at the end of 2018, I started training with a coach and in February 2019, did my first race and haven’t stopped since. Today I run for the freedom it gives from outside distractions. Whether I start the run bouncing with joy or stuck in frustration and anger, moving through the world in such an intimate manner almost always resets my perspective.
I like to save things. When I was younger, my Easter chocolate would more often than not, get too old or attacked by ants before I got to finish it. As a kid with health conscious parents, chocolate was a finite resource. I have a red fleece jumper that I’ve owned for about 10 years and although it’s getting a bit thin, it is still by far my most used jumper. Old fence palings, dismantled structures and odd screws form the bulk of our backyard projects. The way humans produce and manage waste is a well known, worldwide issue. I believe that to get on top of it, we need more than technological advances to assist in waste destruction and repurposing but also a fairly significant culture shift towards reducing and reusing.
At the start of 2019, an event called takayna Ultra caught my eye. A bunch of runners stomping through north west Tasmania in a bid to protect the takayna wilderness. In 2020, I got to line up at this race and cramming into a tiny community hall (which would certainly breach social distancing rules now) listening to Bob Brown and sharing a meal before lining up the next morning, was like no other race. It’s one thing to run with lots of other runners towards the same finish line but to run with 150 individuals towards such a cause with a wild Tasmanian weather front chasing us (and catching some) is another. A small group of those individuals launched For Wild Place and now I have the opportunity to run, preserve our planet and encourage others to do the same. The Stoke is high.
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