Most of the time, young children dream about far away fantasy places, talk about wanting to be vets or astronauts when they grow up, or are happier than pigs in mud playing cricket or footy on the quiet cul-de-sac where their house sits.
Not Gary Mullins.
As a youngster, he was always drawn to the marathon, and in his words, ‘Watching Deek and Mona’s at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games was a must for me.’
He played every sport as a junior, and even tried to get onto Gladiators as a 21-year-old, training his backside off only for the show to be cancelled.
“I suppose training ethics were there from the beginning,” he says.
“I ran my first marathon aged 21 off four weeks’ training, and going on a party bus two nights before the Honolulu Marathon – it was awesome,”
“But then life took over.”
At 32 years young, Mullins was 95kgs and living life to the full, but a friend asked him to run a 10k in Brisbane and Mullins admittedly had forgotten ‘that feeling’.
“Running…it is so free,” he reminisces.
“Two years later, I was 80kgs, a personal trainer, and coaching.
“In 2012 I tried my first ultra, and I was simply hooked.
“I started looking at qualifying times for 24hrs, 100kms and 50km World Championships, so in 2014 I set my eyes on making the 100k team and headed over the following year to Auckland, NZ with friends Sarah Jane Marchell and Lise Gribely, where I ran 7hrs 12mins.
“I’m not ashamed to say I had tears in my eyes, because achieving that qualifying time is an awesome feeling.”
Now aged 45, Mullins lovesracing, saying there’s something in it that he gets more out of for himself. From 800m sprints to ultra distances, the sport’s got it all – training, recovery, struggles, mental aspect, and fuel, and most will be surprised at his training schedule.
“I usually average only 90 to 100kms per week,” he says.
“As a coach and personal trainer, I cover an extra 30k to 40k, so I feel I have the balance right for me.
“I always I would like to represent Australia at least three times; wearing the Aussie singlet is such pride. Getting that phone call from the selectors is always a good feeling, but it also meant that I had to get that training right.
“The AURA team have backed 14 athletes chosen to represent their country, and we don’t just want to compete – we want to win.
“We have some amazing runners in Australia that are just outside of running qualifying times, but I say don’t give up. Just keep working away with your coach, talk to past Aussie representatives and get an idea of what it takes to get there.
“Representing your country is an amazing honour, and we want more runners stepping up to represent the great culture that is developing in our teams.”
Pictured: Gary Mullins getting air in this shot of him at UTA 2018. Photograph – Supplied/Facebook.