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Natt Rayner’s love affair with the Mother’s Day Classic (MDC) started four years ago. The vivacious, gorgeous Canberra local has a special connection to the event, as her first fun run and a cause very close to her heart.
“I was never a runner, I always just shuffled,” she says. “My best friend, her mum and I decided we would enter, so we got our shuffle on and that somehow turned to four kilometres, and then five kilometres, and then we’d made it!”
Natt had a friend on the Mother’s Day Classic committee and after helping out with a few bits and pieces, decided to go all in and join herself.
“I just thought this is such a brilliant event, and I should really be involved.”
It’s an unfortunate reality that most of us know someone who’s been affected by breast cancer, with one in eight women diagnosed at some stage in their life. Natt is no exception, having witnessed the devastating effect that breast cancer can have on the community first hand.
“A very close family friend of mine, sort of like my second mum, was diagnosed with breast cancer years and years ago and was later diagnosed with bone cancer. She passed away last year,” Natt shares. “She was always involved with the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I thought, after all the support she had given me, this is a way that I can support her and give back by supporting a cause that she was passionate about.”
This year marks an especially important year for Natt, as she is not only a committee member but has also been named a 2015 Community Ambassador for the ACT.
“Community Ambassadors are people that have been proven fundraisers in the past, they can be someone who’s been personally touched by breast cancer, or have a close connection. Their role is to be in the community, promote the event, promote breast cancer awareness and research, and promote getting people together for this amazing cause on this one (always foggy!) Canberra Sunday morning.”
And promote, Natt does indeed…
“I obviously Facebook the bejeezus out of MDC; I turn up to running group, through other business contacts, everyone knows this is what I do. It’s also the only charity that I personally fundraise for. I basically hound all my friends and everybody I know, jamming MDC down their throats.”
The running group that Natt refers to began as one of the first elements of the event that she was involved in as a committee member. During the Canberra Centenary, the MDC Committee organised an 8-week training program designed to get people off the couch and signing up to walk or run on the day. In order to be eligible, participants had to register and fundraise $100. The goal was to get 100 people to sign up and raise $100 each for Canberra’s 100th birthday. They got very close, with 86 people signing up to the group, which continues to be in existence every year.
“We meet at the flags near Questacon on a Saturday morning, do a warm up and then head off. This year we’ve incorporated a walking group as well so that those who want to get a few friends together, bring the dog, bring the kids in a pram, whatever it is, they can still come. It’s social, no time trials, no pressure, just come and enjoy it,” says Natt.
“That led me into sponsorships, and I also look after prizes with the subcommittee, and I help out with the organising and coordinating. I also help out with some of the activities on the day.”
Since stepping into the role, Natt says she’s been blown away by the support of the Canberra community, including long-term sponsors and businesses that sponsor different elements of the day, such as Superbarn who provide food items at cost price, or Fernwood, who provide training group participants with a one-month membership.
“The more sponsors that we can get and the lower that we keep the costs, the more money goes to the end goal and ends up in the hands of where it needs to and is meant to be” Natt says.
While she understands the value of a Sunday morning sleep in and breakfast in bed, Natt says there’s no better way to spend Mother’s Day than at the Mother’s Day Classic.
“It’s a brilliant event; it’s a brilliant cause, but what really makes it is the people on the day,” she says.
“Everyone’s got good energy and is pumped to be there, and it brings together all sorts of people with different fitness levels and backgrounds. They might be there because they’ve lost someone close to them or extended family or a friend. You just never know what their circumstances are or what’s brought them on the day but everyone wants to be there. You look out and just see so many people… that’s the best bit.”
Natt says that this year will be bigger and better than ever, with a new and improved Kid’s Corner. In addition to face painting and a jumping castle, there’ll also be an ANZ Hot Shots Tennis game by Tennis ACT; Constable Kenny will be there with the Australian Federal Police plus there’ll be a fire truck with local firefighters, the Brumbies players with Brumby Jack and much, much more.
“If the kids are happy, Mum’s going to be happy,” Natt laughs. “Even if it’s a case of dad stays and keeps the kids entertained while mum walks with her friends, or if mum and dad want to run together the grandparents might have a coffee while the kids are playing, and everyone’s happy. It’s a family approach and a big family event.”
Natt says it’s beautiful to often see three, sometimes four, generations of women there to spend the day together as a family tradition on Mother’s Day. So if you haven’t already, why not sign up and make it a family tradition of your own? With fun, fitness and entertainment it really is the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day with those you love.
If you haven’t ran 5km before, you needn’t fret. Natt says she never would have described herself as a runner in the past.
“I still would say I have no form, no style and no grace at all when it comes to running, but I can do it” she laughs.
Natt’s advice for the day?
“Just have fun. It doesn’t matter, unless you’re there as a runner who uses these sort of events as races, don’t even worry about a time, just finish. However long it takes you, just do the best that you can, and have fun. That’s what everyone is there for really – to relax and have fun.”
What: Mother’s Day Classic
When: Sunday 10 May 2015, from 7am
Where: Ron Terrace, Commonwealth Park
How much: Adults from $50, families from $70
Donate: Help Natt raise funds for Breast Cancer Australia by donating here.