THE Riverina is home to some of the finest agricultural producers in Australia. It is also a region that is renowned for sporting success stories.
It is not unusual for an individual to juggle the commitments of working in a family farming business or the rural sector and then backing it up with several sessions of strenuous training a week to meet their sporting goals. This week The Rural talks to French Park ultra distance running enthusiast and cropping farmer Anthony Metcalfe about the journey that takes him to the far flung reaches of scenic trails.
THE saying ‘a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step’ is literal when describing the lifestyle of Anthony Metcalfe of “Madeira,” at French Park in southern NSW.
Metcalfe is a generational farmer in the Lockhart Shire and runs a cropping operation growing wheat, barley and lentils. However, when he is not sowing or harvesting he can be found hitting the hills of Pomingalarna on the outskirts of Wagga or competing at an ultra event in Motatapu in New Zealand.
Just two weeks ago he was part of a team that completed the grueling Sri Chinmoy Multi-Sport Classic at Jindabyne. This event required it’s participants to swim, paddle, run and mountain bike ride. Metcalfe competed in the teams event with Dave Murray of Wagga.
The weekend before this he tried his hand at the Trex Cross Triathlon at Lake Crackenback. And when it comes to long distances he successfully puts one foot in front of the other and consistently embraces a challenge.
The Hume and Hovell Ultra regularly earns notoriety among distance enthusiasts and Metcalfe has completed the 100 mile (160.9km) course twice and plans to do it again this year.
From his first 100 mile race, the You Yangs Hard Core 100, Metcalfe hasn’t looked back. And if it means taking breaks from training and racing to get the crops sown or to complete harvest he simply takes advantage of the “work-imposed” rest.
Taking in the scenery and enjoying the camaraderie of the other runners provides a big draw card to the sport. Metcalfe is supported by his family, who are all runners. Partner Fiona Hamilton enjoys the sport and their two daughters Imogen, 11, and Zoe, 8, both run too. A memorable moment was when Imogen successfully completed the Wagga Trail Marathon, half marathon event, last year with her dad.
“Running is a family sport and it has a good social network,” Metcalfe said. He and his family are regular faces at Wagga Road Runners.
For him running and enjoying the trails continually lures him back. And despite his high achievements Metcalfe says he is just happy to be “at the start of a race.” In saying that he emphasised aiming for the start was an important part of running. He said over training and injuries were setbacks that could prevent people from even making that ever so crucial start line.
On the lighter he said training wasn’t taken as seriously as one might assume. “I drink beer and eat pies,” he laughed.