WHEN Lisa Bloxsome started the Dead or Deadly Health and Wellbeing course at Waminda, she struggled to run 1.6 kilometres.
Almost three years later she is eyeing off the big prize, running in the New York Marathon.
Through perseverance, determination and hard work she has transformed herself into a running machine ready take on one of the world’s biggest running races.
At 27, the Nowra resident has been selected for the Indigenous Marathon Project. Under the guidance of Australian marathon legend Rob de Castella, who is the director of the program, and coach Tim Rowe, she is preparing for the biggest race of her life.
Next month she heads to Alice Springs with the rest of the IMP team, where she has to complete a 30km race to qualify for New York.
“It doesn’t matter how long we take as long as we complete it,” she said.
“If we fail to finish we won’t go to New York, so there is definitely a lot hinging on it.”
She is confident she can complete the task, having recently finishing the 21km Gold Coast Half Marathon in two hours.
“I did that without stopping which is something I’m pretty proud of,” she said.
“When I started the course I couldn’t even run 1.6km without stopping.
“I would complain nonstop about running that short distance, now it seems so funny. There was no way I would ever have dreamt of running a marathon.”
Lisa has a background in football, having played the round ball game for the Shoalhaven United Bears for a number of years but as a striker said she mainly needed explosive efforts over short distances.
“Nothing like needing the endurance to run 42km,” she said.
“My mother was attending Waminda’s Health and Wellbeing program and encouraged me to take part and I’m so thankful I did. It has been so rewarding and has opened up an amazing new world for me,” she said.
Lisa has been training with Willow Firth, who runs the Dead or Deadly program for Waminda. Each morning at 6.30 they hit the road and run between 15 and 20km.
“I allow myself two rest days a week and we stagger the workload,” she said.
“Some days we will do long runs, other days it’s shorter.”
Willow said the Dead or Deadly Health and Wellbeing program taught participants about a healthy and active lifestyle.
The program enables Koori women to exercise in a safe, culturally appropriate space.
“We use Waminda’s community gym but also get out and about to try new activities,” she said.
“We learn about nutrition and chronic disease, and there is also a smoking cessation component. It is free and transport is provided for the women.
“We have a lot of fun – the women are always up for a laugh. The program has steadily grown over four years and we are now seeing a lot of Koori women accessing the program and changing their lifestyle because of it.
“I think it has been quite an eye opener for Lisa and it is fantastic to see her come so far.
“She is quick and has good anaerobic traits. She is naturally a fast runner but is learning how to pace herself.”
While the Alice Springs run is the big goal that would lead to the ultimate experience of running in the New York Marathon, her next challenge will be the annual 14km Sun-Herald City2Surf on August 11.
“Running in New York would be absolutely amazing,” Lisasaid.
“Just to get there would be great, to run it would be amazing.
“And I will finish it, even if I have to crawl.”
The New York Marathon is on November 3 and Lisa will celebrate her birthday the next day.
“It would be pretty cool to celebrate my birthday in New York,” she said.
Lisa is undertaking a scholarship as a personal trainer with the Australian Fitness Network.
”Waminda has been very supportive of my study. Willow has been my mentor and I can do my practical hours in the exercise shed,” she said.
She says her success in being part of the project has led to her not only gaining more confidence but also becoming a role model for her local community.
“Hopefully if other young Aboriginal people can see me doing this and achieving things they may decide that ‘If she can do it, so can I’,”