Laura Heinrich

I started my RDU journey at the very beginning on 1/1/2014. I had been running on my own for years but had never entered any running events or races. I’d just discovered parkrun and thought RDU would be a good way to challenge myself. Soon afterwards I fell pregnant with my eldest daughter. I kept running and walking through her pregnancy and beyond, with RDU keeping me accountable.

Eventually in 2015 I did my first ever running event, a half marathon. This was followed by several more and then a full marathon. My competitive streak kicked in and I started training properly to try and improve my times. I became a run director at parkrun, had my second daughter and then continued to keep plodding on my RDU journey. With two young kids I never had the time to do huge weekly distances but I set myself different goals each year to work towards. I’ve been through 4 different running prams over the years with one or both girls often joining me.  

In 2019 I set a goal of reaching 250 parkruns and 2,500km, my biggest year yet. In December 2019 I celebrated my 250th parkrun, then a few days later I found a lump and was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer aged 36. In 2020 I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction, 5 months of chemo, countless hospital trips and medical appointments. Reading the benefits of exercise and chemo, I was even more determined to keep going. My haemoglobin levels were wiped out from chemo and at times it was hard to keep running but I readjusted my goals and whenever I couldn’t run I walked. I was fortunate to receive 8 blood transfusions and after each one I noticed an instant improvement in my fitness from the day before! I still have to take hormone blocking medication and deal with menopause-like side effects but gradually as my health has improved my running times are coming down again. I’m planning to run the Sunshine Coast Half marathon in a few weeks, and though it won’t be as fast as I used to run it doesn’t matter anymore.

These days I’m a single parent but I’ve learnt to get very creative seizing every opportunity to get my runs in. I’ve done 10km in laps around and around the local park! I often still run with my youngest in a pram, on the treadmill or occasionally even laps up and down the driveway. 😊 Finishing Run Down Under is something I have worked towards for a long time. I have never been able to do huge kms like some of the finishers and but I love running and I’ve always been consistent in whatever capacity my body will allow.

Of course the best part is all the wonderful friendships made along the way. I’m blessed to have a big circle of friends made through running, several of whom are on their own Run Down Under journeys. We finished this morning with a casual 5km along the waterfront at Redcliffe. Now I just need to decide which map to attempt next...