On 14 November, one determined woman – Kirrily Dear – will begin an 860km run through regional NSW, to raise funds and to get people thinking about what they can do to end violence against women.
What inspired you to take on this amazing challenge?
I became aware of something and then once knowing it I had to do something about it.
I heard a statistic, I didn’t believe it at first and so I started doing some reading. On average, one Australian woman is killed every week by a current or former partner. Turns out it was just the tip of the iceberg. Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15-44 and in the 12 months to December 2013, 28,291 domestic violence related assaults were reported in NSW alone. When you consider that a woman will endure, on average, 24 assaults before she reports to the Police and only a relatively small percentage of women ever report their abuse, the numbers become staggeringly large.
I was compelled to do something. I know how to run. Through talking with White Ribbon and then NSW Police, the idea of the White Ribbon Ultramarathon was born. The route has been chosen because it passes through three of the top 10 local government areas that experience the highest rates of domestic violence assaults.
What training are you doing to prepare?
Specific training for the event started in February. My main focus has been recovery and being able to successfully back up day after day. I have been focused on high intensity sessions rather than worrying too much about racking up big kilometres. I don’t have much spare time for training so I have to make the most of the time I have.
I’ve been using speed work, hill reps, stairs, Crossfit and soft sand running, between 7-12 sessions off a 6 day cycle. Approximately every 5-6 weeks I have been doing a 12 day stint of training with higher kilometres to check my progress and identify any areas that need work.
I feel ready.
Have you done anything like this before?
My longest run prior to this is 262km trail on the Great North Walk. I have completed Coast 2 Kosci (240km) which is my longest road run. So at 860km over 12 days the White Ribbon Ultramarathon is a completely different level of challenge for me.
What plan do you have to get through the run?
Start as I mean to finish. My goal is to keep an even pace all the way through. That will mean starting out at about 7 min / km average. It will feel painfully slow at first but it will give my legs the best chance of recovery each day.
We are only allowed to be on the road during daylight hours so the long days (90+km) will need to be carefully paced and managed. We are expecting temperatures out west to be near 40 degrees or higher. So hydration is going to be a challenge to manage. We will work a bit harder early in the day and then as the heat sets in peel the pace right back until late afternoon.
Mentally my goal is to also keep a very consistent mood. Don’t let myself get too high or too low. My mantra is relax and enjoy the journey, these moments only ever happen once in a lifetime so enjoy it.
Can people get involved during the run?
Go to www.whiteribbbonultra.com and from there you can join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There will be a lot of social media activity over the 12 days. There are 7 community events happening out in regional NSW in conjunction with the Ultra so keep an eye out on our social media channels as we will be announcing those soon.
If you can’t make it to one of the regional events then we are also holding an event called the Step-A-Thon where people are setting their own challenges to do over the month finishing on 25th November, White Ribbon Day and the finish of the White Ribbon Ultramarathon. More information is available at www.whiteribbonultra.com and look out for the Step-A-Thon button.
How can people support your cause?
If you go to www.whiteribbonultra.com there is a very large ‘donate’ button. All donations go to White Ribbon to help fund awareness and education programs. Also we are selling White Ribbon Ultramarathon shoelaces so you can show you’re willing to take steps to bring an end to violence against women.
Most crucially we are asking people to take some time to read the posts on our website and social media and think about what they can personally do to help bring an end to violence against women. Every person in our community has a role to play.
Many people believe that men being violent toward women is inevitable. That it can’t be stopped. They’re wrong. By learning to recognise violence, and by speaking up we can make it end.
Once this epic challenge is complete, what’s next!?
Sitting down sounds nice! Once Christmas is done then I will be turning my attention to a really tough challenge; getting my marathon time down to by 12 minutes to go sub 3:30.