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Madeleine’s journey from Junior Dash star to marathoner

Since 2006, Madeleine Evely and her family have made the 1,677km pilgrimage from Bendigo to the beautiful Gold Coast every July to join thousands at the annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

During that time the 22-year-old has amassed nine finisher medals across four distances and will be aiming to add another to her collection when she races her third marathon on Sunday 2 July.

Her first taste of Australia’s premier road race was as an 11-year-old whipper snapper running alongside hundreds of others in the 4km Junior Dash igniting her infatuation for the event.

“I was competing in Little Athletics and we thought it’d be a great opportunity to travel to the Gold Coast, visit the family and race in the event,” Madeleine said.

“I don’t remember too much of the race because it was so long ago but I remember that it was a lot of fun!

“My parents enjoyed the experience so much they decided to travel to the Gold Coast the following year with my dad running the marathon. We have been coming ever since.”

After producing faster times the following two years, it was time for Madeleine to progress to the 10km where she surprised herself by taking out the 12 – 14 female age group in scintillating fashion.

She went on to race the 10km the following year before travelling to Poland to represent Australia at the 2011 World Schools Teams Track and Field Championships alongside six girls from her school.

Her experience racing overseas led her to up the ante and race the ASICS Half Marathon where she once again blitzed her age group rivals and crossed the line in 1:41:57.

It took a family member’s medical diagnosis to inspire her to double the distance and run her first marathon on the Gold Coast in 2014.

Madeleine is congratulated by her dad, Andrew, after completing her second marathon on the Gold Coast

“My godmother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and that spurred me to run a marathon for her while raising money for Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia,” Madeleine said.

“Learning about multiple sclerosis and watching my godmother suffer from this illness was quite upsetting. I wanted to fundraise to help find a cure for the illness.

“Raising money was something I wanted to do myself. I approached local businesses and asked for raffle donations, organised charity movie nights and contacted the local paper for publicity.

“It was quite a busy time. I was in my second year at university so I was juggling my studies, my training and raising money for charity.

“I ended up raising around $6,500 for Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia.”

Madeleine’s quest for marathon glory was aided by the support of her father who has been a constant inspiration since her early running days.

“Dad is my idol. He got me into competitive running when I was younger and played a big part in me representing my state and country,” Madeleine said.

“My dad had run a few marathons by this time and watching him train for them was always inspiring. I thought it was my turn to give it a crack.

“I didn’t know what to expect in my first marathon. My goal was 3:30 and I was on track until about the 34km mark before I hit the wall. I finished in 3:47:39.”

Madeleine celebrating her first marathon with her friend Stacey on the Gold Coast in 2014

The next year Madeleine returned to the Gold Coast and completed her second marathon in front of her proud family and friends but was left wanting her sub-3:30 finish time.

Four months travelling around Europe in 2016 meant she missed her favourite race for the first time in four years, however her drive to achieve the milestone was quickly reaffirmed on her return.

“My aim this year is to break 3:30. I know there is a lot of work I need to do to achieve this,” Madeleine said.

“I’m back at university and it can be a struggle to fit in runs while studying. But I feel like I’m going to be okay if I’m consistent in my training.

“I am fortunate to have maintained my fitness by running with my family three times a week. Most of them will be joining me on the Gold Coast and we’ll be hanging out for about a week after the event enjoying the beaches, theme parks and national parks.”

Join Madeleine and run for the good times at Australia’s leading marathon, the 2017 Gold Coast Airport Marathon to be held 1 – 2 July, in one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world in Queensland, Australia.

Take on a personal challenge and join more than 27,000 participants of all ages and abilities from around the world in eight races including the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15km, Southern Cross University 10km Run, 5.7km Challenge and Zespri Junior Dash.

Early bird fees finish Sunday 30 April 2017 (11:59pm Qld).

Madeleine is the winner of our Run For Your Life magazine ‘Share Your Story’ competition.