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Coogee mums ready for run of their lives

Mum’s the word: Members of the Coogee Cougars after a morning training run. Photo: Peter RaeIt began as a simple story. A bunch of mums get together for a few training runs in the hope of improving their times in the The Sun-Herald City to Surf, presented by Westpac.
Nanjing Night Net

They met on the promenade of Coogee beach in the early morning and ran together, the story goes. Gradually others heard about the runners meeting on a Thursday and numbers grew.

Five years later there are more than 300 regulars. Among them is Sergeant Carolyn O’Brien, who a few months ago, never thought she would be running in the 2014 Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon.

She was recovering from painful shin splints sustained after returning to exercise too soon after a hip injury. She also believed her days of clambering over five-metre walls and sprinting 100 metres, as was required when she first joined the police force, were long gone.

“Everyone told me I was old, that I would never come back,” said Sergeant O’Brien, 52. “My son would look at me and say, ‘it’s time to give up’, and that’s what spurred me on to come back.”

While she was once an active officer manning the streets, she said her fitness took a “back seat” over the past 15 years as she raised a family and took a desk job with NSW police.

The point of change came on her 50th birthday when she gave up 30 years of smoking and joined the Coogee Cougars, a regular running group for mothers in the eastern suburbs.

“I sometimes think, ‘oh God I can’t do this’, but hopefully I’m on track and the Cougars keep me going”.

Organiser Jo Davison, who will also be running along with 70 other Cougar members, said the group was “community that support each other through the day to day, the highs and lows of life”. They will be among 15,000 people expected to enter the half marathon on Sunday May 18.

The 21.1-kilometre race starts and finishes at Hyde Park and passes some of Sydney’s landmarks including the Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Garden.

This year, marathon organisers hope to raise more than $1.5 million for The Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Make-A-Wish Australia and UNICEF Australia.

Sergeant O’Brien will run the first seven kilometres. Her relay teammate will complete the remainder But she is determined to return next year to conquer the entire distance.

“I would like to do the [Sun-Herald’s] City to Surf, then the full Half Marathon next year,” she said. “I think that’s what running does to you. It’s a personal achievement. A challenge to yourself.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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