(Posted - 21 Aug 2012)Torquay medical graduate, Jacinta O’Neill, is taking inspiration from her sister’s brave battle with breast cancer on a mission to run 100 kilometres to raise funds and awareness for the fight against the disease.
O’Neill has signed on to run the full 100km course of the inaugural Surf Coast Century, an ‘ultra’ trail run being held on the Surf Coast on 22 September. Monies raised by O’Neill’s achievement will go toward the McGrath Foundation and specifically towards rural nurses working in the area of breast care and cancer prevention.
O’Neill admits that the ultra run will be the hardest thing that she has ever attempted.
“I have a triathlon and cross country skiing background, but I’ve never done anything this extreme," says O’Neill.
“It will be something that I expect will always stick in my mind. It’s going to be a big, tough day and I expect as much a mental challenge as it will be a physical one."
Facing her darkest moments during the event, O’Neill is determined to draw on the strength she has witnessed in her sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 33 years of age.
“The fundraising part of this challenge is something very close to my heart," says O’Neill. “My sister will be a big inspiration during the race – I’ll think of her amazing positivity, strength and courage in getting through all of the horrific things that she has at such a young age, and I’ll know that what I am going through is nothing compared, and I’ll keep on running."
Appropriately, O’Neill has dubbed her fundraising page ‘Run Jacinta Run’ (www.gofundraise.com.au/page/Runjacintarun). Prior to signing up for the Surf Coast Century, O’Neill’s longest run had been 21km.
“Since registering, I’ve done one fifty kilometre training run taking in the second half of the course. It was sensational but a bit of a challenge. It hurt, but I made it." She is excited about the prospect of taking on such a big adventure in her own backyard.
“It’s in my local area and is being run along some of the most beautiful trails in the world, so I thought that I’d give it a crack."
The Surf Coast Century will run in a rough figure-eight off road course taking in Anglesea, Torquay, Aireys Inlet and Moggs Creek, starting and finishing in Anglesea.
The course will explore the Surf Coast’s tracks and single trails - including the Surf Coast Walk - taking runners on a journey along beaches, atop massive cliffs and into the fern-fringed hinterland. Race organiser, Rapid Ascent, notes says while there will be plenty of inspirational solo runners like O’Neill on course – more than 100 have already signed on – the event has also been developed as a “stepping stone" ultra with team categories of between two and four runners who each complete between 25km and 50km legs in a relay.
Information and entries at www.surfcoastcoastcentury.com.au
Donations to Jacinta’s fundraising efforts can be made directly at www.gofundraise.com.au/page/Runjacintarun .