It was a huge honour to receive the award. I'm going to paraphrase a lot of what I mentioned in my acceptance speech but essentially I'm really humbled to be awarded and to have the support of so many people in the running and local Blue Mountains Community.
For a relatively small city, the Blue Mountains certainly produces its fair share of fine sportspeople. You only have to look at the back page of the local Gazette to see the plethora of fine performances right across the sporting spectrum; including those athletes with disabilities.
There are Olympians, National Team members and elite sportspeople at the top of their chosen sport. As an example, our 10,000m National record holder Ben St Lawrence hails from the Blue Mountains. There's never a shortage of junior champions as well.
So perhaps I was the only nomination for the award, who knows, but it's an award that means a lot nonetheless. I guess the one thing that I feel perhaps stronger than others is the connection my sport has with the local environment. I simply wouldn't be a trail runner if I didn't live in this runner's paradise. I feel that at times as though I'm gaining such an unfair advantage by living up here and having so many diverse and beautiful trails all around me.
But honestly, trail running for me rarely feels like a sport when I'm out and training. Yes, come race day it's game on, but for me trail running is as much as part of the essence of who I am as much as it is about the sport of trail running. The peace, the time to reflect and connect with nature and the energy of life is so much more important to me than any result.
But you know what? All this wouldn't be possible without the freedom and high standard of living we are blessed to have as people of this great country. The very fact that we can get out the door whenever we want, run through the bush and be safe while doing it should never be taken for granted. I am a proud Australian and love the Australian way of life; which in the Blue Mountains always involves the environment around us. It is, afterall, a city within a National Park.
Since moving up here 3 years ago, I've also had the pleasure of connecting with a welcoming and supportive running community. People were more than happy to bring me into their own little running community and I'm very grateful to all the local runners for the many training runs and coaches like Rob Spilling and Earl O'Brien who have helped me out along the way.
But I do believe that as much as you take you have to give back. As much as I can I've always tried to promote the Blue Mountains to others as a wonderful place to come and train or explore. I love nothing more than taking people out and showing them the trails and what the Blue Mountains has to offer.
I also have to say that without trail running event organisations there wouldn't be an opportunity for us as trail runners to get together as much as we do; so for all the event directors; groups like RunningWild and Mountain Sports, your involvement is very much appreciated too.
Oh and whoever it was that nominated me, thanks very much!
|With Young Citizen of the Year Clair Brown,
Citizen of the Year Sergio Rosato