It’s now a few weeks into June and writing about a “pro-police” virtual running festival that took place over the month of May might be a bit on the nose for some.
But before anyone reading this starts sending me hate mail, let me first start by saying that I am in Melbourne, Australia. That is not to say that racism doesn’t occur everywhere, only that the incidents of “police brutality” as seen in other parts of the world, particularly at the moment in the US, are very rare in Australia, especially in Victoria. So with that in mind and without making any further comment on the issue, this is my Month in Review, May 2020.
On the 22nd of April 2020, at about 5 pm, four Victoria Police officers were killed during a routine intercept on the Eastern Freeway in Kew. The officers had allegedly pulled over a vehicle for speeding when they were hit by a truck.
The incident happened to correspond with the second running of the Run4Blue virtual running event.
Run4Blue is a Virtual Run held in May each year that was put together by two Australian police officers from Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The event is a “chose your own adventure” style event where participants elect to run/walk or ride a certain distance over the month with entry fees being donated to the Police Legacy organisation of their choice.
In Victoria, Police Legacy is a not for profit organisation that supports Victoria Police families, serving or retired who have lost a spouse, partner or parent both financially with education and career grants a well as social activities including lunches, emotional support, counselling and advocacy and much more.
Given the tragic circumstances on the Eastern Freeway and the cancellation of races across the country due to COVID-19, Run4Blue garnered more attention than in its debut year. Blue ribbons began appearing on front fences, doors and shop fronts in support.
Many Victorian runners pledged to run a total of 159.485km for the month of May, a figure that came about by adding up all the police badge numbers of each of the fallen members.
27.417km for Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, 27417
40.942km for Senior Constable Kevin King, 40942
45.438km for Constable Joshua Prestney, 45438
45.688km for Constable Glen Humphris 45688
As I usually run between 200-250km per week, the 159.485km didn’t seem like much of a challenge or that I was doing justice to the memory of the officers, so I just doubled it. 318.97km would be the most running I had ever one in a single month, just over 10km per day.
Of course the month started off on the first of May. I rummaged through my box full of charity pins and broaches and affixed a Blue Ribbon Foundation ribbon to my Altra running shoes. It would stay there the entire month. I ran 11km on that first day, running past my local police station, currently closed due to the COVID-19.
During the first few weeks of the global pandemic, kids in my neighbourhood, confined to their houses due to nationwide restrictions, started drawing rainbows on the footpaths and driveways outside their homes and putting teddy bears in their front windows. I would look for these on my runs, also confined to the streets around my house.
But after the 22nd of April, I started chasing blue ribbons as well as rainbows as they popped up on fence posts and front doors.
I tried to keep everything low key in that first week. I was concerned about injury or overdoing it and very aware that a day or two off running could result in some big days and more risk of injury. Then on day 8, my car broke down and I was forced to take my first day off. I was now playing a catch up. I tried not to stress about it and just added a little bit here and there. I tried to keep the runs as varied as possible to keep myself interested but strangely it was never a chore, I never had to force myself to do it. I was running at least 10km every day, no ifs, buts or maybes. The choice was taken out of it.
Some days I took the dogs,some days I ran near work. I got my car serviced and ran the 18km home. Due to COVID 19, the local trails and parks were closed for most of the month, so the same loops around my house was all I could manage.
I ran some of my biggest weeks outside of a race week or a super long training run. 4 weeks in a row and did little things to keep me focused and motivated. I painted my nails, changed my watch face, put blue ribbons on my shoes. This month wasn’t about me.
As the month drew on, I felt the fatigue in my legs and couldn’t wait for a day off. I took some relief when the trails finally opened allowing me to go into the bush for a change of scenery and some reflection.
I was inspired by other members of the group, planning big adventures and the group relay and by the constant donations coming through from friends, family and my insta-fam.
On my last day, I worked it out exactly, how far I would have to go to reach exactly 318.97km. I didn’t want to fall 100m short. I was so proud when it was done. I raised $795 towards a total of $385,000 and I committed myself to a goal and completed it. No excuses.
To be honest, it was easier than I thought. I was worried about the increased mileage, the time it would take, recovery each day etc but it really wasn’t that hard once I took the decision out of it. I had a solid why which I think really helped and once I calculated how much I had to do each day, the choice was taken out of it.
Hopefully I can carry these learnings into my future training and goals. I know my body can handle a lot more load than I was giving it and all those excuses, well they are just that, excuses.
Special thank you to everyone who donated in some way to the Run4Blue effort whether through a runners link or direct to Police Legacy.
My page is still open (CLICK HERE ) if you would like to contribute.