Sport

Benalla’s Chrissy Purcell set to take on New York Marathon

By Meg Saultry

In what is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Chrissy Purcell, the Benalla local is set to take on the world’s biggest marathon next month, when she runs the New York Marathon.

And it will be all for charity, with Purcell’s 42km run honouring her grandmother Elsie Purcell, who died of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to do, to tick it off the bucket list,” Purcell said.

“I’m nervous but know I can do it.”

The opportunity to run in the event, in which it is notoriously difficult to secure a place, came about through a bittersweet invitation.

“I’ve always wanted to go to New York and do it,” Purcell said.

“I’ve got friends who do it, and one friend, who runs regularly for the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, his dad passed away last week.

“He approached me and said he couldn't run this year and did I want his ticket?

“We had to ask the charity, but they said ‘yep, Chrissy can run’.”

Purcell is aiming to raise $3000 for the foundation, with all money raised going straight into research.

She said it was a privilege to be able to run for a cause close to her heart.

“It’s always something I’d wanted to get into, it’s affected our family,” Purcell said.

“It’s a common disease but a hidden disease.

“No-one really talks about it, it’s silent.”

After transitioning to running after a long stint as a hockey player with Country Victoria, Purcell has completed close to half a dozen half-marathons, as well as a full marathon in Melbourne last year.

And she has been taking her training for her upcoming race relatively seriously, as she looks to beat her personal best time of four hours and 20 minutes in New York.

“I've got some friends who are professional runners,” Purcell said.

“I've been going in for coaching and doing a training program.

“Sprinting is different to long distance, so I’ve been learning some tricks about foot placement, and what's sustainable and what's not — just picking their brains.”

Last weekend Purcell had her final tune-up ahead of the US race, taking on the half-marathon at the Melbourne Marathon Festival.

Despite planning to take it easy, she ran the 21km race in one hour and 55 minutes, putting her in good stead to hit her goal of four hours in New York.

Flying to the Big Apple at the end of the month, Purcell will join more than 52 000 runners in the marathon, which starts on Staten Island, covers the five boroughs and finishes in the iconic Central Park.

She will be supported through the race by her niece Marley Kisf, before the pair enjoy a brief holiday to some iconic locations across the US, including the Grand Canyon.

● To support Chrissy Purcell's fundraising efforts head to the Crowdrise fundraising page at: https://tinyurl.com/y53bcv34 The fundraiser closes on Friday, October 25. All donations are tax deductible.