Team Member Spotlight: Christie McKay

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Christie McKay’s preparation for the 2017 Gold Coast Half Marathon was far from routine but the elite runner may just try to bottle it given her stunning result.

The recent addition to the POGO admin team spent the weeks leading up to the race organising and coordinating the more than 100 athletes who ran under the banner of Brad Beer’s Mermaid Waters physiotherapy practice.

In those final days leading up to the festival in early July the requirements and hours needed to guarantee the weekend ran smoothly for all involved became nothing short of frenetic. And all this had to be balanced with Christie’s own preparations for her fourth half marathon and the goal of retaining her place in the Queensland squad.

Not only did the running mum deliver a personal best in a lightning time of 1hr 20min 18sec which was good enough for 14th place among an International Open Women’s field, she also set PBs for the 5km, 10km and 15km in doing so.

The time allowed her to retain her spot in the six-woman state team to contest national half marathon titles which will be decided as part of the Sunshine Coast Marathon in August.

“The lead-up to the race was pretty hectic,” Christie says.

“As a runner myself, I was trying to prepare for my race. And there were a lot of hours in the weeks leading up with final preparations for both my own training and making sure the POGO side of things went smoothly and that it was a good experience for all those involved. But it was great, I loved it.

I didn’t have time to get nervous, at least until the night before #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

“I didn’t have time to get nervous, at least until the night before, because I was so caught up and excited about everything else.

“It was probably a good thing and probably why I ran so well.

“On the day I was able to run a PB over every distance as part of the race … my 5k split, my 10k split, 15k split and my half marathon time were all PBs, in one race which was pretty satisfying.”

Christie’s climb to elite distance runner is hardly surprising given her sporting background as a state touch football and soccer representative and the fact her competitive edge is borne out of having three younger brothers and never wanting to give them an inch or lose to them – at anything.

“I started running to stay fit I guess, after making the decision that I wanted my weekends back, not being at soccer all day on weekends and travelling all over the place from our home in the Lockyer Valley,” Christie says.

“One of my brothers asked me to go in the Gold Coast 10km race with him. So, of course, it became about beating him.

“I had no idea what I was doing but I ran 40 minutes and then someone said, ‘that’s an alright time’ and it took off from there. I fell in love with it.

I had no idea what I was doing but I ran 40 minutes #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet

“I was seeing a lot of women in running who were getting better as they were getting older.

“We’d moved to the Coast by then and I decided to look for a coach and stumbled across Adam Gordon who is an elite triathlete based here. I approached him and he started writing training programs for me.

“It was probably around the same time that once I decided I was going to take it seriously I needed to make sure my body was OK so I sought out Brad and it all tied in together.

“Since I’ve been with both of those guys, touch wood, I’ve been pretty much injury free.”

Christie tackled her first half marathon at Noosa in 2016, posted a time of 1:22:50 and immediately joined her now employer Brad Beer as a member of the Queensland representative squad.

Last year’s Gold Coast Half Marathon doubled as the national championships and Christie concedes it wasn’t her best day.

“I didn’t run very well in that half marathon,” she says. “I put a lot of pressure on myself, it being my second run at the distance, and being part of the Queensland team I was a bit overwhelmed.

“This year at Gold Coast I ran four minutes faster than last year and I’m hoping to make the state team again.”

Christie believes there are a couple of reasons 2017 has been her most productive year. Four-year-old daughter Zahli has met her at the finish line every event with a huge hug and it has also been the year she has taken her running shoes off the bitumen for the first time.

“It was road running until this year,” she says.

“Of the six or seven events I’ve done this year, only the Gold Coast Half Marathon was purely a road race.

“The three events on the Sunshine Coast had off-road elements to them. They were all 15km events and part of the Sunshine Coast Run Series. I won all three of those and was series winner as well.

“Then my coach Adsy said ‘there’s this Up The Buff race, do you want to try that?’

“I didn’t quite realise what I was in for. I only did the 16k race – I’m glad it wasn’t the longer one – and I ended up coming second. It was hardest thing I’ve ever done and I don’t know that I’d do it again. But I’m glad I’ve done it.”

Christie says having been a long-time client of POGO and running alongside Brad Beer and officer manager Libby Maxwell at parkruns and various events, she had been waiting for an opportunity to join the team.

“When I first started with Brad as a client I didn’t have an injury but I was getting serious about running. I knew he was a good physio and I just wanted to get some direction because I wanted to do what I could to avoid injuries,” she said.

“I kept coming back because I loved the way he treated his patients and I loved how hands-on he was … it would be nothing for him to contact me out of hours just to make sure everything was OK.

“I’d been to lots of physios in the past and I’d never received that level of treatment.

“When the opportunity came up at POGO and it just seemed like a no-brainer to apply.”

Christie describes her admin role as multi-faceted with social media and marketing components far more engaging and enjoyable than her previous roles in the banking sector.

“As a part of the marketing team, I have a lead role in our Finish Line awareness campaign, informing referrers such as GPs, orthopedic surgeons, specialists etc of the outcomes that our Finish Line programs can help clients achieve,” she says.

“And on the social media side … we love to celebrate our clients’ Finish Line. So it’s all about making sure we capture their joy at being able to get back to whatever it is that they like to do, whether it be walking or running or just being pain-free.

“And all the while I’m working with like-minded people and clients and it’s a great place to be. It feels natural to be there, feels like I’m working with family.”


Neale Grundy

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