What a pleasure it was to chat to retired Queensland Reds & Wallabies player Fletcher Dyson. This humble, laid back gentleman spoke with pride about his past rugby union career and spoke with excitement about his upcoming marathon challenge.
Having played 51 games for the Queensland Reds and 10 test matches for the Wallabies, Dyson is no stranger to physical challenges. His Rugby career came to an abrupt end when he suffered a neck injury in 2004, an injury that very nearly took away his ability to walk again.
These days, the father of three and husband to Amanda, works as the Queensland State Manager for a company specialising in orthopaedics and has set his next challenge to running the New York Marathon. This will be his first marathon and definitely an item to tick off his bucket list.
At 42 years of age and weighing in at 118 kilos, Dyson admits “initially I was unsure if I could do it, but it was my wife that convinced me to sign up for the challenge, one that we will do together”. They are hoping to raise as much awareness as possible for the MND and Me foundation not only across Australia but across America also.
“I’ve never run more than 10 kilometres but now I am up to 17. I’ve always thought that being mentally tough and mentally strong is good and I think it’s all about good preparation and getting into a good mindset. Having not done much in the last 11 years, blowing the cobwebs off the muscles is bringing back a lot of old memories. When I think about staring down that barrel of 42 kilometres and it’s just me, my mind and the atmosphere, for me at the moment it’s all about getting as many kilometres as possible under my legs”.
The Gold Coast half marathon will be a good measure of how he is going physically. “My calf muscles have always been a weakness for me, so after the 21kms, I will know exactly how I’m feeling and how my calves are going”.
Dyson isn’t setting a run time for the marathon, but just wants to test himself at 42 km’s. As long as he crosses that finish line he will have achieved his goal.
We spoke about what feelings he thinks he will experience on the day. He knows he will be excited but above all he will be nervous. “You will basically be at base camp looking up at Mount Everest. The key to it is to enjoy it. Taking the pressure off by not focusing on a time and just focusing on crossing the finish line allows you time and space to actually enjoy the run. Standing on the start line, I’ll definitely be emotional.
“Although I’ve always been a nervous person on game day, I’m really excited about this. I imagine during the last five kilometres of the run, the crowd will get a little bigger, the skyline will get taller, the legs will be hurting and I know it will be the longest five kilometres I’ve ever done. But I’m hoping the endorphins and adrenalin will keep me going”.
He has also been given some great advice from past marathon runners, “if you are running well, back off and ease up because your energy will come in waves. You need to be able to manage the mind and body. But most of all enjoy it because we are fortunate enough to have the freedom of the body, mind and soul to be able to complete this.”
We also spoke about his biggest fear of getting to a point in the marathon where his calves and legs won’t want to move anymore. But at 42 he knows his own body and how far he can push it.
When I asked him what he was most looking forward to post marathon, there were only a few words needed, “Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. If I can run a marathon, I think I will have deserved a beer.” He also plans to go for long walks to keep the muscles moving which was an important recovery regime back in his football days.
Having been to New York before, his top recommendation is to see the city via helicopter by doing a helicopter tour. “It was 20 minutes of pure beauty. A beautiful place and the people are incredibly friendly.”
So who has been his biggest support person so far? His wife Amanda of course. And it’s no surprise that he draws his inspiration from the late Scott Sullivan. “In the short time I got to know him, the influence he had on the awareness of the disease and the way he dealt with his own situation was admirable. He was a tower of strength”. It’s evident that he feels very grateful at the idea of running a marathon for such a good cause.
To sponsor Fletcher, head to:
Author: Hayley Polsen