Runner’s Tribe Journal by Lissy Duncan

Leonora Golden Gift 2017 presentations with Lissy Duncan: Photo by John Cooper

When the last minute opportunity to compete at Leonora came about I was pretty quick to discount it knowing I am not race ready, but also lacking the confidence in whether my foot would be okay to run that fast following an extended break and two surgeries to fix an acute foot fracture.

The weekend at Leonora created an environment that enabled athletes from all around Australia to meet and hang out with each other as well as interact with the local Leonora community for the weekend. The lack of phone and internet reception created a unique environment, which is hard to come by!

Leonora 2017: The elite athletes are introduced to the crowd at the Leonora horse races: Photo by John Cooper

Everyone headed to Leonora for various reasons. Some, a fun weekend away, others a more serious race or even a hit out before European competitions.

My coach encouraged me to go for a relaxed introduction back into racing. I wasn’t easily persuaded initially, but eventually appreciated the idea of getting involved with the athletics world again and a testing out my foot.

The local Leonora kids run down the main street and are then presented medals by the elite athletes. Photo by Andy Tyndall

The weekend brought up some emotions for me. Firstly, after two operations, many months out of the sport and having specialists dubious about allowing me to get back into running more than “a jog every second day”, the idea of getting on a start line in a race situation felt like a big deal as it would indicate whether competing was something I could get back to achieving.

After being the last qualifier to scrape into the final, I was thrilled to come 5th and had the sense that with each race, the feeling would become more and more familiar. I was grateful just to be able to compete and learn that I’m not as fragile as I imagined post surgery!

Leonora 2017: The elite women race down the main street of Leonora during Saturday night’s semifinals. Photo by Andy Tyndall

Watching the community come to life to host us for the weekend was pretty cool. It would easily be the biggest sporting carnival the town sees each year and will hopefully continue running well into the future.

Leonora Golden Gift 2017 – The community celebrate through running to promote health and fitness: Photo by John Cooper

Before we competed in the 1 mile race, there were a series of races for the locals that included the Work Boot Sprint as well as kids races. It was clear that there was an insane amount of enthusiasm and talent amongst the kids. The standout for me was a boy who ran barefoot, like most, and won the junior 120m sprint. Immediately after the race, he broke down into tears and the commentator revealed it was an ‘emotional win’. I was curious and upon further investigation was absolutely devastated to learn that his older brother had won the title in a previous year and had since taken his own life.
It brought me back to my teenage life filled with love, positivity and encouragement to seek out every possible opportunity and particularly to get involved in sport.

Hugely confronting, but such an important reminder to be grateful for the opportunities that we are lucky enough to have and the little 1%ers that make each day fabulous.

Leonora 2017: The elite athletes high five the crowd after Sunday’s final. Photo by John Cooper

I’ve come away from the weekend grateful as ever for the experience and reminder that the little steps in the process on the way to achieving our goals is just as special as actually obtaining the goal itself. As well as an abundance of red dirt in my shoes, pockets and lungs, I am filled with gratitude and motivation to come back more resolute than ever!

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