Eliza Lepair and her Athletics Adventure so far...
I began Athletics back in 2011, as a shy nine-year-old who couldn’t even run a lap of the track; I will honestly admit that I absolutely hated it. Now, eight years later, I’ve fallen in love with the sport, and it is the thing that gets me out of bed every morning.
Last June, I competed in the Victorian Cross Country Championships, where I finished 10th from 133 girls in the under 18 event. I was then selected for the Australian Championships to be held in Queensland, which was my first time competing for Victoria. At the 2017 Victorian Championships I had finished in around 60th place, so to have improved by that margin and be selected in 2018 was an amazing feeling.
A month out from the Australian Championships, I sustained an injury to my foot, which began as peroneal tendonitis and progressed to a stress fracture. I was forced to cut back heavily on training, reduced to a few light, painful jogs over the next few weeks. Somehow, I got myself to the start line and, although, it wasn’t pretty, I also managed to get myself to the finish line. Nonetheless, I felt very privileged to be a part of a team, especially as they cheered me on while I hobbled across the line in 79th place. Despite everything that occurred that day and in the lead-up, my Nationals experience was incredible and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Following the BAS Lap of the Lake in late August (four days after Nationals and not my best decision, as it further worsened my already fractured foot), I spent almost three months out of action. It wasn’t until after this race that I learned of the fracture, and I then spent almost 6 weeks hobbling around in a moonboot. It was the most frustrating experience, but it helped me to realise how much I rely on running and the benefits it brings, both physically and, especially, mentally.
Due to the injury, I was unsure if I would get back to competing in time for the 2018/2019 track season. To my complete shock, I ran a personal best in the 1500m merely a few weeks after my very first run back, and barely two months since being in the moonboot. I was ecstatic, and over the remainder of the season, I managed to cut 11 seconds from my 1500m PB!
2019 will be my ninth year of running, and I am hopeful as I look forward to seeing what this year will bring. As I enter my final year of school, I am wary of the potential challenges that may lie ahead of me as I attempt to balance my studies with daily training sessions. However, I feel I am up to the challenge, and I am very lucky to have the continued encouragement from those closest to me. The distance running community is full of the most amazing people, and I am incredibly grateful to have such a supportive network of individuals around me, each of whom love the sport just as much as I do.
Eliza Lepair, Year 12 student