Ross and Michelle Olivier will be running The ComradesMarathon in 2018. They have decide to #Run4Charity and have set a target of R30,000.00 to raise funds for the HPCA Hospice Palliative Care Assn! We caught up with the couple and they shared with us their inspiring story.
Could you please tell us a brief overview of your background?
Ross and I grew up moving around the world as we both come from expatriate families. We met in Nairobi Kenya during a school sports tournament; at this time I was living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Ross was living in Kampala, Uganda. A few months later, Ross' family moved to Dar es Salaam for his father’s work and we started our journey as a couple at the International School of Tanganyika at the ages of 17 and 18, respectively. Fast forward twelve years and we are now based in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal and have been married for five years. Ross is currently working at Unilever, South Africa and I work remotely for an Interior Design Studio in JHB.
What got you started into running – was there anyone close to you that inspired you?
We were both very fond of sports growing up, but it wasn't until we had completed our studies and moved into our first home that we started running. It all started with the odd park run, which quickly grew into a bit of a Saturday tradition. The park run is the perfect platform for beginners as it allows you to track your progress and meet like-minded people in your own neighbourhood. The 5km distance quickly turned into 10km, and before we knew it we were signing up for our first half-marathon. What really surprised us about running was how quickly you can start achieving your goals and the sense of accomplishment you get when you do so. There always seems to be more that you can achieve and another level to push yourself to. Running has become one form of 'quality time' for us and we continue to push and inspire one another.
How long have you been running for in general and for comrades?
We began running in 2011 but the bug only really bit about a year later. We were both signed up for Comrades in 2017 (our first) however, 3 months before race day Ross picked up a knee injury and had to pull out of the race. I continued to train for the race with the BEST support a runner could ever wish for, and completed my first Comrades in June this year in a time of 9h55m with Ross seconding me all the way home. Ross's knee is now injury-free and we will both be taking part in 2018.
What do you enjoy about the event?
Comrades is more than just a road running race, it is a display of what people can do when they step outside of themselves and come together to achieve something spectacular. There is so much that goes into this race: hours of training, preparation, hard work and dedication. That being said, when you are at that start line you are all one and are all there with the same purpose. The sense of togetherness and companionship is so overwhelming that you are reminded that running really is not a solo sport - it is when people come together that true magic happens.
How do you prepare for an event this big?
We all live within some form of a routine but training for a race like this is ALL about routine. We like to mix up our training with speed-work, longer distance runs, trail running and a whole lot of strength work to prevent injuries. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body; it will tell you when you can push yourself further and when you need a time-out. Stick to your program but be sure to invest in rest as well. The best thing to do is join your local running club or start your own social club so that you have the support and motivation that comes with training within a group (not to mention the amazing people you meet along the way).
Who are your biggest fans/supporters?
Without a doubt our families and our closest friends. Our best friends (Leticia & Alex) travelled to Durban this year alongside Ross' Mum (Lesley) to support and will be cheering us on again in 2018. My Mum (Wendy) and Dad (Jan) have recently moved to South Africa from The Netherlands and will be joining them next year. We really could not ask for a better support system; they have been absolutely phenomenal and have already donated to our fundraising campaign for HPCA.
What is your favourite food before and after a run?
Where do we begin? We are absolute foodies and always strive to fuel our bodies with wholesome nourishing foods that assist with recovery and inflammation (that can arise from excessive training). The most important thing to remember is to stick to what your body knows and what works for you - never try anything new before a race as your body may not react positively to foreign ingredients. We like to keep it relatively simple and clean before a big race, so normally opt for sweet potato & butternut mash with either a grilled chicken or fish fillet and some roast vegetables. After a race we ALWAYS celebrate with Pizza (our favourite).
Do you enjoy running alone or prefer a group?
We enjoy both and tend to mix it up a bit in this regard - however we always run together. We often train with our running club, the Dolphin Coast Striders, however we definitely take time to enjoy some solo runs as a couple. It is a time for us to bond and spend quality time together.
How has running changed your life?
Running can be seen as a metaphor for life: there is no single giant step that will get you closer to your goals, it's about getting out there and taking lots of little steps. Small incremental pieces of progress that lead you to the realisation that you can never stop striving to improve. Running has taught us the power of compounding. When you work at something every day, the power of accumulated positive behaviour can lead to the mastering of a skill.
Is there any particular reason you chose Hospice as your preferred beneficiary?
"When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them." These words were the inspiration behind our fundraising campaign. We often take such simple blessings for granted, while there are many people out there who would give anything to be able to go for a run. Comrades is a battle that tests your physical, emotional and mental strength. While we only face it for a single day, there are unsung heroes fighting these battles every day.
HPCA is supporting families in their battles and offering them holistic approaches to the care they require. We are honoured to run for and support these heroes on the 10th of June, 2018.