On Saturday the 19th August I was all set for my 4th ever “race”, however I had succumbed to the dreaded virus that’s been going around for the whole week leading up. Saturday morning came and I hadn’t run all week. Convinced I had enough energy I lined up with coaching teammates and some beautiful midwifery friends who I used to work with. 

The Bilpin Bush Run is one of those special local RFS run fundraising events which has the most awesome atmosphere. Every checkpoint has a little bonfire, water, electrolytes, cheers from kids and volunteers alike. Just bursting with awesomeness! 

So off goes the siren on the fire truck and we are away. I am sitting nicely in the middle of the pack happy with how I’m going, then we take a sharp dive to the right and into the national park. Dust is flying everywhere and suddenly I can’t breathe. Ventolin out…puff puff puff puff. Right onwards and …upwards…..really, Already?

Then all of a sudden I realise I’m alone.

Stopping for ventolin left me well behind. I couldn’t see anyone anywhere. I continued on for another kilometre and stood at the top of a technical decent staring at the pinnacle in front of me that is Mt Tootie. 1000+m ascent.

Still with no one behind me I fought with my mind for about 2 min. I could easily have quit…I was sick. The coach would understand. I had only entered this for “fun”, not for any actual “racing”, and so because I remembered I was here for fun, off I went. Before I knew it I was running through a cow paddock dodging cow paddies. I rounded the dam and caught the attention of the residents….he had big horns and I don’t think he was too impressed with me being in his paddock. Suddenly he and his herd started running down the hill towards the gate I needed to get through. He was bellowing at me, but I made it through the gate and as I started climbing Mt Tootie on the other side of the fence. He stopped and watched me walk away.

As I started this relentless climb, which felt like Kedumba (but really it was smaller) I heard rustling in the creek beside me….all of a sudden a wombat appeared. He followed me up the hill along the “blue” line which was painted on the ground for us to follow. After a few pics I kept plodding up this hill. Then I crawled. Then I cried. But then I saw a photographer sitting at the top….I was there…the best parts were ahead of me.

I smiled and looked at the view. My breath was taken away in more ways than just physically! I have lived in the Hawkesbury all my life and my grandfather had milled timber in Bilpin and Surrounding areas and I had wanted to see this view he talked of. It didn’t disappoint. At the top there was another checkpoint with kids screaming and cheering and offering water and lollies! They were just the best! Down this mountain I went smiling for another photographer who wanted me to do a jump shot while running downhill…ahhh no!

I used some of the free energy and ran for a bit but then came to some off camber single trail and was just about to walk when my head coach bounded past me. Now he had done the longer course than me and he was already passing! He’s inspirationally speedy and just gifted at running. But words of encouragement poured out of his mouth and he kept going. By this point there were 4k to go out of a 16.7k course. They were the longest 4k ever. I was struggling to breathe and the cold wind was hurting my chest. My ears were ringing so loud.

I got to the second last checkpoint and again considered quitting. I Chatted to the ladies for a bit who convinced me to go on. Scrambling up the technical trail I finally made it to the last 2k. It was open Fire Trail..but I couldn’t even muster a jog. Finally I could see and hear the main road. I was so close….600m a RFS vollie informed me. “Right”, I said. 300m and we run.

Ok let’s do this. Right go…..and then I rounded the corner and saw the finish….all of a sudden screaming cheering and calling my name were all my midwifery friends, and fellow coaching club athletes and coaches…the announcer said “crossing the line currently is a very popular local lady Melanie…ahh…Jovanovski (all I could do was think yep good job you got it…lots of ppl struggle with my name) and it was done.

I finished.

The head coach came over to congratulate me. He was so impressed with my strength and resilience. “Really gutsy he said”. 

It took a while to sink in. I wasn’t that impressed at the time. I thought I was second last. (I later found out I wasn’t, but it was close). But after hearing from my coach as well who said how resilient I was I thought about it….I became proud of my determination. I kept going. I didn’t quit. It hurt. I didn’t win…well I did actually. I won a battle in my head. It’s kinda the best part. 

by Melanie Jovanovski

For more information on the Bilpin Bush Run head to www.bilpinbushrun.com.au