Serena Wooldridge is on a mission to conquer 50 marathons by the age of 50 and on Sunday the breast cancer survivor came one step closer.
Wooldridge was diagnosed with grade two aggressive breast cancer 11 years ago and required surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Despite the setback, the 46-year-old laced up the sneakers and with a positive mindset began running as a mode of recovery, and as a result the Patterson Lakes resident has since not looked back, winning the Shepparton Running Festival marathon to complete her 44th race.
‘‘It was a goal of mine that I set and I will complete it,’’ Wooldridge said.
‘‘In fact, I have booked in six more before the year is out and I should reach my goal by December 3.’’
Running has given Wooldridge a new lease on life, literally and figuratively, with the experienced athlete emphasising the importance of keeping fit and healthy.
‘‘I was relatively healthy, but since I had cancer I took up running and it is my church, it allows me to clear my mind and it has given me a new-found energy,’’ Wooldridge said.
‘‘My father was also diagnosed and given only three months to live with throat cancer, not long after me, so I got him out and active and thankfully he is still alive.’’
The Shepparton Running Festival was Wooldridge’s second marathon in as many weeks after backing up from a stint on the Sunshine Coast a fortnight ago, and without any intentions of winning, the Melburnian found herself travelling quite well.
‘‘I never thought I was going in to win it, but halfway through I realised I was in with a chance after racing in Queensland,’’ Wooldridge said.
‘‘I actually started running as if it was a training run and then I just kicked on from there and did pretty well.’’
Wooldridge is now a personal trainer after giving up her full-time job, and her passion, drive and desire to succeed is what she hopes to instil in many of her clients.
‘‘Everyone is so tough, you do not realise what your body can go through and for me running is what keeps me going,’’ Wooldridge said.
‘‘The ability to help spur people on, keep them fit, healthy and active is what inspires me to help others push their own barriers.’’
As an inspiration to many, Wooldridge finished six minutes ahead of Alison Travill, while Stacey Clarkson, Rebecca Cladingboel and Teleah Hayes won their respective categories.