Comeback Time for Heidi

2 October 2017
Comeback Time for Heidi

Every athlete knows the frustration of being sidelined with injury and the delight of eventually getting mobile again and regaining their fitness. After two hip operations and more than two years of recovery Eden Valley’s Heidi Giersch is on the comeback trail, making her long distance running debut in the 10km event at Runaway Barossa.

Heidi was a handy athlete as a kid, running sprints in primary school and dabbling in high jump, riding horses and involving herself in Thai boxing as an adult. She readily admits she was never really a long distance runner but that is all about to change.

“Through my years of horse riding and Thai Boxing and just general wear and tear, I ended up with a painful hip injury and couldn’t do anything for about a year. It is devastating when you have been active all your life and then you can’t be. I wasn’t even able to do a gentle walk without pain killers and anti-inflammatories.”

“It was just painful in every sense of the word. It was totally frustrating and drove me mad. Eventually I had two operations on the same hip. About 18 months ago I started back running building up very, very slowly.”

With the announcement earlier this year that Runaway Barossa Marathon was coming to the region, Heidi was inspired to step up the training and sign up.

“One night after a couple of wines I thought bugger it, I’ll enter the 10km at Runaway Barossa Marathon.

This race is going to be a milestone in my recovery and it has given me something to work towards. I had considered the trail running thing but the planets never aligned with doing that and there was plenty of notice with Runaway Barossa that I thought that’s it. I am going to do it.”

With the help of her trusty canine companion Hector (the Mastiff, Dane, Bull Arab X), Heidi has been a regular on the trails around the Eden Valley area, determined to make her distance running debut at Runaway Barossa and do it in style.

“When I was Thai boxing I would run 5km before training but that was the most I had ever done in terms of distance running before this. So the 10km is a big run for me and I never thought I would see the day that I would do it.”

“I have been building up slowly to get back to running after the operations and it has been Hector and I doing it on our own. I started doing 1.5km, then 2km and I have been running with Hector for a full year now, every day Monday to Friday. When I decided to do the 10 km run I knew I needed to do a big run on a Saturday, so I have to leave him home because he is too heavy to be doing the longer distance.”

“I started doing a 6.7km loop. I have been just trying to find blocks around our place on the dirt roads. Then I stepped it up to 8.4km and now I am going to have to combine those two tracks to push out a 10km before race day. I have looked at the Runaway Barossa 10km course and I also want to try and run that before the actual day as well.”

“I am going into this event cold, with no other races under my belt but hoping for the best. Thankfully living in Eden Valley there is no shortage of hill training out our way. I am hoping it means the flatter Runaway Barossa course will be a bit easier. That is certainly the plan. Provided I don’t keel over and die at the end of this one, the body holds up to the training and the fitness keeps progressing there is nothing to say that I wouldn’t have a crack at a half marathon down the track,” she laughed.

A sixth generation Barossa Valley girl, Heidi is a genuine local. Her mum’s family (Kalleske) is from Prussia and came to the Valley in the late 1840s and early 1850s and then later on from Berlin in the early 1900s.

“I am a legit local. They say it has to be a couple of generations so I have that covered. Mum’s side settled in Tanunda and dad’s side of the family were farmers in Kapunda. I am in Eden Valley. When I was five mum and dad bought a small farm just out of Angaston and my fiancé and I purchased a small property in Eden Valley about eight and half years ago.”

“I have a strong affinity for the area. I tried living in Adelaide for a while but couldn’t handle that for too long. Both my grandmothers are still in the Barossa and there is such a community in the area. You know people wherever you go, the deli or the butcher, so that sense of community is very attractive. I am a local, it is a nice place and good place for kids to grow up. I have a lot of great memories of the area.

Heidi proudly said that visitors to Runaway Barossa Marathon will see the valley in all its spring glory and she is looking forward to celebrating her success with everyone at the Finish Line Festival at Peter Lehman’s Wines in Tanunda.

“The middle of spring the Barossa will look glorious. The blossom will be finished but the vines will be shooting and everything will look spectacular and green. I am just going to be happy to start it and finish it and if I can do it in under an hour I’ll be a happy camper. That is my main goal. A glass of Riesling to celebrate will definitely be on the cards at that time of the year,” she said with a grin.>