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Postcard from Dili, Timor-Leste

by Contingent Medic Olivia Sheeran

2 May 2012

Whilst it is important to start the race, what ultimately counts is that we finish it. These pearls of wisdom came to mind when we ran a 19-kilometre course during our recent physical training session.

On 5 April, we rose at first light in Kiwi lines. I am not sure whether I was more excited than anxious but I spent 45 minutes to psyche myself up for what lay ahead. The run had been in the pipeline since the start of our tour last November and we had gradually prepared for it.

 

Contingent Medic Olivia Sheeran and Cdr Andrew Nuttall, Senior National Officer of the New Zealand military contingent in Timor-Leste, take a brief but welcome respite at the top of the Cristo Rei steps in Dili.

 

At 0545, we set off from the Helicopter Point of Departure base towards the Cristo Rei of Dili, the 27-metre tall statue of Jesus which can be reached by climbing some 500 steps. Winning was out of the question as Cpl Daniel Atkinson was way ahead of the pack from the start. I was in the middle in the first half of the race and posed for some photos while taking a brief but welcome respite at the top of the Cristo Rei steps.

In the second half of the race, I was initially ahead of Cdr Andrew Nuttall, Senior National Officer of the New Zealand military contingent in Timor-Leste. But he eventually outran me to finish sixth overall, clocking two hours four minutes three seconds. I finished eighth overall and was the first female participant across the finish line with a time of 2hr 5min 48sec.

I felt a sense of achievement completing the 19-kilometre run. It also helped me prepare for the third “Dili – City of Peace” half marathon on 12 May 2012, the final challenge I have set for myself before returning to New Zealand. Around 300 athletes including Olympic silver and bronze medallist Yuko Arimori are expected to pound their way through the half (a loop of 21km around the outskirts of the city) and full marathons (42 km), running in temperatures as high as 31 degrees Celsius. 

There is a saying which goes like this: Many have a good beginning but few have a good ending. My hope is that I finish well.

 

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