Tembagapura Women Conquer Great Wall Marathon
26 June 2019
A group of Tembagapura women recently took their running routine to a new level when they joined hundreds of other runners from around the world in the Great Wall Marathon in China.
Thanks to a combination of perseverance, discipline and hard training, Claudia Castro, Rebecca Williamson, Melanie Woytiuk, Rebecca Meisburger, Helen Chernof, Kailey Kinney and her sister Stacer Varga all successfully completed their events in the 18th Great Wall of China Marathon on May 1.
Race participants could choose a marathon (42.195km/26.2m), half marathon (21.1km/13.1m) or fun run (8.5km/5.5m). All events were held on the Great Wall.
“I was always wanted to do a marathon,” said Rebecca Williamson, whose husband is Kerry Dickman, TE-Underground Remote Control Technology. “It was on my bucket list, but doing it on the Great Wall of China just took that bucket list to the next level. Honestly, it was definitely in the top five best days of my life!”
The Great Wall Marathon is one of the most challenging and includes 5,164 steps and steep climbs. That may sound difficult, but living in Tembagapura does offer some benefits when it comes to training for a race like this.
The women trained intensively for four months, using everything at Jobsite they could find to help get them in shape. From running through the hilly town, to using the very long staircase near the Lupa Lelah Club, to getting personalized coaching for strength training and gaining insight from various reading materials, they were ready for the big day.
“The Great Wall of China Marathon is the toughest one,” said Claudia Castro, whose husband is Manuel Castro, TE-Underground Train Automation Maintenance. “The hardest part was the long run on the concrete. The trail was all right, as we have similar hilly environment and higher altitude here, and the stairs were fine too; thanks to our training at the staircase. But in Tembagapura, you run on the mud, and it somewhat softens your step so running on hard surface for a long time is another story.”
For some of the women, the experience meant far more than just completing a race.
“It’s a life changing experience,” said Kiley Kinney, whose husband is Allen Kinney, TE-Grasberg and Underground Blasting Specialist. “Running a marathon was something I never thought I would physically be able to do. The whole thing was so emotional and overwhelming.”
While the actual race is important, the atmosphere surrounding the race can be just as vital.
“At first I was a little bit undecided whether or not I was going to go but so glad I did,” said Rebecca Meisburger, whose husband is Paul Meisburger, TE-Underground Project Engineering. “I did the half few years ago in Singapore. It was tough, and I didn’t like it. This trip was so much more amazing. I just loved the atmosphere, the excitement.”
The Tembagapura women’s running group has been around for more than nine years, but the Great Wall Marathon was the first time the group did a race together.
“It was really great experience. It was my second marathon after the first one long time ago,” said Melanie Woytiuk, whose husband is Chris Campbell, Senior Manager-DOZ Mine and DMLZ Production. “When I came to Tembagapura, I started to run again and got so excited to learn that there’s bunch of ladies who love to do same thing. Thanks to these ladies I can get back on track.”
The group is looking for another race opportunity that fits their schedule. In the meantime, the group continues exercising together, running through the town every Monday and Friday. They also are looking for new members and encourage women to join them.
“We are open to all,” Castro said. “Fitness does not matter, whether you are beginner or seasoned runner, the worst you can do is not even try it.” (Sularso)
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