RUTH ANLEY - RUN THE MAINE
I grew up in Maldon and hated it. As a teen I thought it backward and boring, never anything to do. I couldn’t wait to leave that hick town and go anywhere I wanted. Then I grew up, fell in love with a Castlemaine boy and began mass-producing children.
Until the age of five I lived in Cranbourne where my mum commuted to Melbourne for work (first female telephonist since the war) and Dad worked on a market garden farm, painted, and looked after my sister and I. Stay-at-home dads are more common these days, but forty years ago they were almost non-existent. I can remember the boys at school telling me I had a 'poofter fairy artist' for a father. My parents were way ahead of their time.
Looking back, I think it was a blessing growing up in a small town where life is slower and less pressured. I believe that if I was growing up today I would be even more scattered than I was (school reports read: Ruth is constantly distracted by others and needs to concentrate more) with the constant distraction of technology. We were pretty good at procrastination and entertaining diversions without phones, memes, and social media.
I completed Year 12 at Castlemaine Tech. We were the first year to trial the VCE. I always had part time jobs as a teen and went to Nanny School in Toorak. I fell into nursing as I did not know what else to do. I wasn’t a very good nurse as I have a low tolerance to bodily fluids and a weak gag reflex. Now I help my husband with our plumbing business, mother my six children, and look after our expanding menagerie.
I live here now as I am not a very adventurous person, finding comfort in what I know - like a hobbit. Both sets of grandparents live locally so we get extra support which was so valuable when the kids were small. The children attend the local schools and I have watched them move up through the ranks with friends they have had since kinder. I think stability is crucial when raising children. Maybe when they are all grown we will move but I am very content where we are right now.
The community of Castlemaine is a diverse range of people each bringing a new element into the fold. It has a really great feel to it. It has changed vastly in the past twenty years; more cafes, interesting little shops that inspire creativity and lots of second hand shops that invoke nostalgia when you find something you remember from your childhood.
As a child I participated in the local netball comp. As a teen I avoided team sports but wore a huge hole in the lounge room carpet doing a Jane Fonda aerobics video every morning. Then, when I wasn’t conceiving, gestating, or lactating I would fit in what I could. Sometimes lots, other times just getting to drink a cup of tea while it was still hot was an achievement. When my last baby was one I bought a treadmill, then when parenting became overwhelming I would go up into the shed, run for half an hour and return to the house a much nicer person. It was when I realised what an impact exercise had on my mental health that I was hooked.
I go out for a run two to three times a week. Exercise is a priority in my life and I make sure I make time for it. Everything else falls into place. I have more energy to do the mundane chores I have to do. When I am not exercising I get restless and hyper but unable to focus the energy in an efficient way. My husband often tells me to go for a run when he can see I'm twitching.
I met Libby at Married Ladies' Netball. I can remember the first time we played against each other; we were standing side by side in the goal ring and I was wracking my brain for something witty to say as she seemed like a cool chick. We have been running together for at least ten years. I must have been pestering her to run with me and one day she let me tag along. I was not ‘run’ fit and for a while I really thought she was part cyborg as she never seemed to get puffed. Needless to say we have seen many sunrises together as we fit runs in where we can, which may seem romantic but it's really not. Now it seems like she has always been there taking me on adventures I would never go to on my own. I have done a half marathon, a 100km trail event (lost 6 toenails, thank you Lib), and lots of smaller ones. In the past couple of years my crew and I have done obstacle events and we enjoy a weekend away every year to run in City to Surf in Sydney. Libby also made me paddle in an Olympic TK4 canoe in the Murray Marathon, skinniest boat you have ever seen.
As with most things in my life, Libby starts them and I hang on to her coat tails and go for a ride. Initially the idea occurred to Libby because we were travelling to Melbourne to participate in fun runs as there weren't many locally. Now we organise a fun run, don’t get to run it (unless we are plotting a new course) and still travel to participate in other events. There are no official numbers for our first year but we guess around 150 and we donated about $4000 to the hospital. It has definitely grown in the past nine years. This year we had over 300 entries, and will donate over $10,000. All up we have donated $100k, attracting people Victoria-wide and some from interstate.
There is quite a lot of work involved setting up an event like this. We are a committee of volunteers that have family and work commitments elsewhere. Somehow we manage to fit in what is needed in between. Libby is the Director of Run the Maine and does the bulk of the work involved. The rest of us are her minions. We haven’t really struggled to get sponsors for our event as the local businesses are so very generous. Our major sponsor, Castlemaine Property Group, have been with us since the beginning.
This year we changed venue and added a 14km trail which was popular. We would love to increase numbers but I think realistically there are so many events around these days that the market is really saturated and there is a point where you're going to plateau.
Competitors who stand out include a family who would come down from Queensland in honour of their mother who was nursed at Castlemaine Health; Joji, a medical student from Melbourne who won the 10km two years in a row and donated his prize money to a junior runner to encourage growth of the sport; a guy called Chip who runs every year, and I am not even sure why I remember him, but I do.
If you're thinking of moving to the area, just enjoy. Castlemaine is a beautiful town. I feel lucky to live here.
Favourite things to do include coffee and cake, and Friday night whiskey drinks and laughs with my crew.