Peter Mac’s Chief Nurse Jac Mathieson uses exercise and running as a way to “meditate” and switch-off from the stresses of helping run a busy cancer centre. She took her running to a whole new level recently, completing her first 80km ultramarathon on the beautiful Cape to Cape coastline in South West WA.
The run, which started at 7:00AM and finished just after 9:00PM, took Jac off the grid and into some rugged, off-road terrain in the stunning Margaret River region. She said the run was physically gruelling but overall it was more of a mental challenge – especially the last 20km.
“It was a difficult mental challenge as a lot of the time you were on your own and also you are so tired and so far from the end and then running in the dark,” she says.
“I didn't like running in the dark because I'm actually scared of my own shadow. I had a head lamp on but you can only see a few metres in front of you, it's pitch black.”
Starting on the white sands at Hamelin Bay, the 80km point to point course passes through a diverse range of breathtaking landscapes, from the Karri tree forests to cliff top trails providing views up and down the coast. For Jac it was a chance to really switch-off, both from work and technology.
“I am quite addicted to work - as people may or may not know - but that entire fourteen hours I did not think of work once. I was totally in the zone,” she says.
“That is also why I enjoyed the training time before the run as it was a really good way of unwinding and switching off because you are running, you can't focus on anything else but the run.”
It was also a lot about the camaraderie on the track, Jac says, with runners banding together and helping each other out. Jac and another man picked up a runner who was struggling and the three of them crossed the finish line together.
Although the run was physically gruelling, she would consider doing another one and can see how people get “addicted to them”. She is a big believer in all staff having something outside of work to pull their focus away from the stresses if the day-to-day grind, “allowing you to return recharged and ready to put in your best”.