It is fair to say that 2020 has not been the best year for most people. The greatness of humanity, however, is not dependant on having the perfect life, but about standing up and being strong when things go wrong.
Throughout this year, Nicole Slater has set the perfect example of overcoming obstacles, developing resilience and never giving up when life doesn’t go as planned. Her journey through this year has shown all of us how far can you go when you keep trying and never give up.
Nicole joined the Davey Black Running Club Melbourne to pursue her dream of running a marathon. This year though, she endured the cancellation of her plans of running the Patagonian International Marathon, temporarily losing her job, an injury, and a family emergency as well as all the challenges we all faced as a community during lockdown. Despite that, she never gave up, never stopped training. She never missed a session, and she was able to keep her motivation going and adapt to the situation.
It would be easy to say that her dedication comes from herself and herself only, but the reality is that she has always had a strong team by her side. On one side, her partner, Jess, was always there, supporting her, training by her side and doing what was needed to help her in any way possible. On the other side, her dad, the engine that kept her emotional perseverance going. Her sister Lee-Anne, acting as a constant pacer (in both running and not letting Nicole fall at any time when things became difficult). Her mom, always giving a word of advice, a comment of support, a bit of her love to remind Nicole that her athletic pursuit was never in vain. And last but not least, the living memory of her grandparents, the reason why running became such an important part of her life.
Nestor: What do you like about the sport of running?
Nicole: I was what you might call a late bloomer in finding my love of running. Back in 2014 I wanted to challenge myself and signed up for the Melbourne Marathon Running Festival. I dragged my dad along and we did the 10km. We both loved the atmosphere of the fun run and suddenly found ourselves signed up for more events after that! What I love is the sense of freedom I feel after I find my rhythm, it’s the closest thing I think I could feel to flying.
Nestor: What was the purpose behind running your Marathon last week?
Nicole: Running a marathon has always been on my bucket list and it’s something I wanted to do before I turned 30. That was this year and to make things extra meaningful the plan was to run in the Chilean Patagonia and raise funds for Dementia Australia in honour of my Chilean grandparents who both passed away from Alzheimer’s. With the pandemic all my plans had to be adapted but I still ran with the national Chilean soccer jersey to have a little piece of Chile with me.
Nestor: Because of it being a virtual event, you had the chance of running anywhere, is there any special reason for you to have chosen Jells park?
Nicole: In September my family was rocked by a medical emergency that had me move back home to my parents place which is right next to Jells Park. The last few months I’ve been training there and I really wanted to run somewhere close to home where my parents would feel comfortable to come along and be a part of the day. Especially my dad who has had to take a break from running and has been supporting me over the last year.
Nestor: What role did your family play in getting you to this Marathon?
Nicole: Without my family, there was never going to be a marathon. Starting with my wife who picked up things around the house when I was out running for hours, made sure I was eating enough and stretching. My sister ran the second half of the marathon to make sure I didn’t give up. My parents provided emotional and motivational support through out the entire year. My dad in particular in the days leading up to the big day was assuring me I was capable when the doubt started creeping in, sharing his own Marathon lessons from 2017. We have a saying between us “Rain, hail or shine father and daughter always get to the line” and we ran the last 150m together.
Nestor: You ran this marathon to raise funds for Dementia Australia. What does this organisation do?
Dementia Australia is an organisation that represents the 450,000+ Australians living with dementia. They provide support, education and advocacy for people living with dementia and their carers. Through their research foundation they provide grants to further better care and hopefully one day find a cure. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia but is largely misunderstood.
Nestor: How can someone help with your cause?
I think reading a bit about dementia is a good start, but I also have my fundraiser for the Dementia Australia Research Foundation where I’d be very grateful for donations that go directly to the foundation and are tax deductible.
Nestor: What will be your next big challenge be?
Nicole: For now I think it’s time for a bit of R&R. 2020 has been a roller coaster year for my family and I and my mind and body need a break. The one firm goal I have in mind for 2021 is to improve on the PB I set in the marathon!
Nestor: For anyone considering the challenge of running their first marathon, or raising funds to help humanity, what would you like to tell them?
Nicole: I’d say to never hesitate and go for it. Good intentions are never in excess and I think sport is a particularly powerful platform to make a statement. It’s one of the few areas in life where performance speaks louder than anything else and to use it as a vessel to bring awareness or to fight for something you care about is a great gift to humanity.
Nestor: Do you have a favourite quote that helped push you through?
Nicole: The only bad run is the one you don’t do
For Nicole, running is more than the action of moving the body or being fit, it is a statement. Moving people’s attention to something greater than herself, to support a cause and one with so much power to her. At Davey Black we look forward to seeing Nicole, Jess and her family set themselves to a new challenge in 2021 and showing the world the real value of running… Or maybe trying something new like a Triathlon?