All the inspiration Geoff Moore needs to run is the memory of his childhood stuck in bed with a debilitating illness.
It is what motivated him to strap on his running shoes as a 22-year-old and run his first ever half marathon in 1970. And now that memory will fuel him to do it all again, 50 years later.
Mr Moore will take part in YMCA Canberra Runners Club’s half marathon which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this Sunday (26 May). As a participant in the first-ever event, Mr Moore will be joining the anniversary celebrations while also achieving a personal milestone, making it a dual celebration.
The 71-year-old’s memory of his first is as fresh as if it was yesterday. “I was an 800-metre runner at the time so I wasn’t actually trained for that distance,” he said with a smile. “I was just doing the Canberra Runners Club’s Saturday events each week and the half marathon was the only event on that weekend so I had a run in it.
“I could run a few kilometres quite happily so I decided to try myself over 21 kilometres. There was probably no more than 30 runners in that race and I finished in the top 20. The field was well spread out and I was running along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin with no one in sight in front or behind so it was quite a long and lonely run.
“I am still alive now so I must have recovered fine,” he said with a wide grin.
His 50-year passion for running began when he was a seven-year-old stuck in bed for a year when his friends were out running and playing.
“I came down with rheumatic fever three times when I was a boy,” he recalls. “The first time I was in the hospital for six months and was home recovering for another five months.
“I couldn’t get up for six months which was horrible for a seven-year-old boy. I came out of it very weak and I couldn’t walk, which turned into an incentive to stay fit and well.”
Mr Moore has lost count of the number of kilometres he has run, which isn’t surprising when you consider his track record: running 150 kilometres a week for 15 years when he was at his peak and still managing 50-60 kilometres a week to this day.
Despite the experience, Mr Moore said he still feels the nerves as he prepares to celebrate his golden jubilee of running long distance.
“I am still focused on my time but for this half marathon I am focusing on surviving really,” he said, laughing. “I haven’t run in a half marathon in three years.
“I am a bit nervous about it, to be honest. The idea of being quite sore for a couple of days and not being able to run is a possibility because I want to keep running.
“I founded this big running training group 15 years ago called the Speedy Geese, which has become one of the biggest running groups in Canberra, and I would love to be the motivation for those guys and inspire the next generation of runners, and the generation after that.
“That is the most important part of Sunday for me.”
YMCA Canberra Runners Club’s half marathon
Lennox Gardens Canberra
8 am, Sunday 26 May