Greg Ponych

This month’s member profile is Greg Ponych…..our 5th finisher with Run Down Under. On Saturday 25th February as part of our parkrun-downunder day, Greg completed his 14,080km journey. We tallied the stats and came up with a 'gun time' of 3 years, 1 month and 25 days for the lap.  The 'net time' (actually running) was 1281 hours or 53 days, 9 hours at an average pace of 10.98km/hr or 5:45 splits. Average distance per day of 12.2km - 2 parkruns and a bit per day. 17 pairs of running shoes, some toenails and a few blisters were the only casualties along the way.

The first question we had to ask Greg is What do you most love about running? What is the attraction? Greg replies by saying “The initial attraction of running was the individual element; to be in control of your own routine and schedule with very few outside influences. As long as there’s a track, a trail or some road you can run.  Later I found the great sense of community and camaraderie amongst runners; from the people I was seeing at all the same events, to the nod ‘n wave from strangers out on the road doing their own run. Run Down Under is a great example of this community of runners and I’ve met some really great people along the way around Australia.”

So, when did you start running and why? “I started running at high school” Greg states, “training with the athletics squad.  I enjoyed the running more than the field events and joined the cross-country squad as well. Preferring longer distance runs, I started getting up early in the morning to train and found it the most peaceful part of the day to be out, which I still do to this day.”

Run Down Under was proud to be there as Greg finished his lap and he had some kind words to say, which we had to add to this profile.

“I found Run Down Under on the web one afternoon randomly Googling, looking for interesting runs to do. I think it was only a couple of weeks before the kick off in January 2014. The idea of my own-paced trip around Australia appealed instantly as an extra motivational tool to help meet my weekly mileage targets. After initially joining RDU as a purely personal motivational tool, I started to meet some of the other runners through Strava and then at the occasional organised races as well. Even though the lap around Australia is my own race, in my own time, there’s actually a whole group of us running it together. The encouragement and support from everyone I’ve met along the way has been a real highlight.  I was able to be at the finish line when Jodie (2nd) and Katherine (4th) finished their laps and that really sums up what I like most about Run Down Under – being part of something where so many other people are also reaching their own goals.”

With 14,080kms under his belt and many more years running prior to joining Run Down Under, we asked Greg what his most memorable run has been. Greg excitedly tells us “My most memorable run was at the Caboolture Historical Village in February 2012. Up to then I’d done a few half-marathons and 10k fun runs and never seriously thought about doing anything longer. The event was a 6 hour timed run, rather than a set distance and something about that idea caught my curiosity. It may have been that I realised I wasn’t going to be able to run much faster than I was; so perhaps I could run longer. Over the 6 hours I finished my first marathon distance and first 50k, finishing with 57km for the night. After that I was hooked on the longer distances and went on to improve my 6-hour PR to 67km.” Greg goes on to add his favourite Run Down Under moment which was “the first RDU shout-out I shared with another runner in the first year. We were heading in opposite directions around Centennial Park, both wearing our RDU shirts and gave each-other a high-five as we passed.”

“Running is an important part of my lifestyle even though it’s sometimes hard to fit it in, particularly with work.  My go-to strategy has always been to get up super early and get out to run; the added benefit being there’s nothing better than seeing the very first light of the day when you’re already half-way through the run and heading for home.  There’s something truly magical about that time of the day and for me especially in winter when it’s the reward for that extra effort of climbing out of a warm bed to face the freezing day. As a family we’ve done a few run-based holidays, picking out a run that looks interesting and then adding a few days before or after to make a short break and a family road trip. Now that the kids are older, my wife and I have done a few weekends away that might have overlapped with a particular event- purely by coincidence of course J

For me, running is a bit like chocolate – even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good; and much better than the alternative which is missing a run. When I’m at work in Sydney, my favourite run is a loop from the City through Centennial Park and down to Bondi Beach. Centennial Park is always full of other runners, cyclists, PT classes and team sports, so there’s a lot to see. Almost all my training runs are alone, but occasionally I’ll meet up with someone out on the road and run a few kilometres together and have a chat. When the kids were younger they’d sometimes come out with me for a longer run on their bikes which was great company and a chance to talk about anything and everything - and someone to carry the drinks!

My main source of inspiration is really just to keep pushing my limits and see how far I can go. My running goals are simply to try and keep improving my times and stay injury free in the process. There’s always someone who will run faster or further, so the inspiration to push a little harder is always coming from within."

Greg finishes by saying “Finishing my lap of Australia is a real milestone for me and I’m grateful for the support and encouragement I’ve received from other runners along the way. I’m now setting my sights on a lap of America for the next stage and completing the 7-7-7 marathon challenge later this year.” And Greg’s running motto…………….

 “It’s impossible,” said pride. “It’s risky,” said experience. “It’s pointless,” said reason. “Give it a try,” whispered the heart.