Madeline Heiner chasing Commonwealth Games dream


Steeplechaser Madeline Heiner is off to Scotland for the Commonwealth Games. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Steeplechaser Madeline Heiner is off to Scotland for the Commonwealth Games. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Thought your day couldn't get any busier? Just think of Madeline Heiner for a moment: working in a pharmacy, studying on the side and trying to get ready for a Commonwealth Games while in the preliminary stages of planning a wedding.

"I get up very early in the morning," the Thirroul-based Heiner joked.

"At the moment I'm starting to cut down work a little bit in the next couple of weeks. I have to compromise sleep when I do [train] but at the moment it's just how it's worked out.

"I don't think I'm going to ever be someone who just runs. I think I would probably find that all consuming. I like to have lots of things going on during the day and I think when you have a bad race or a bad training session, there's other things for you to worry about during the day."

Worrying about everything else apart from running is exactly what Heiner did for eight years.

The 27-year-old ran pharmacies in ACT, Tasmania and South Australia before her return to Wollongong late last year.

Since then she's launched the most remarkable comeback as she bids for a place on Australia's Commonwealth Games team to Glasgow next month (via the 3000m steeplechase).

Just how far Heiner has come can probably measured in her improvement in the 10km - a fun run distance she tried with friends because she thought she would be no good at it.

"I had a group of friends [in Adelaide] who were runners and I went to the coach and said, 'look, I want to come one day a week and it's just for fun and then I'll do some fun runs'," she said.

"I decided on 10km as it's a distance I thought I would be no good at and therefore have no pressure. I started off and I wasn't good.

"This time last year I think I ran pretty much what would be considered a jog now. I ran a 40-minute something and I thought I was pretty good."

Last week Heiner continued her tune-up for the Commonwealth Games with a sizzling 32:50 to win the Launceston Ten, which doubles as the Oceania 10km titles.

It's a long way from the start of last summer when, after returning to the Illawarra (where she had starred as a junior), she decided to have a serious crack at Commonwealth Games selection. And even then she wasn't sure what event to target.

"The decision basically came from whichever one is first on the calendar at the trials I would focus on and it happened to be the steeple," Heiner said.

"I attempted a slightly impossible double and tried to back up in the 5km 20 hours later.

"It's been a funny time since April. I knew I had done everything to get into the team so I knew I should be there.

"I certainly felt I had earned that spot.

"It's that waiting and thought in the back of your mind someone's going to change their mind and not want you in the team any more.

"It was relief more than anything else [to be confirmed earlier this month] - and because it is quite close we've almost had to plan everything as if I was going anyway."

So after eight years of not planning anything to do with running, Heiner can't help but do any planning without running. A big PB is the goal in Glasgow and after that, who knows?

"I think when I made the decision to try to make the team it was pretty much my goal," she said.

"I thought if I could do that at least I've done something, but the season has gone so much better than I could have expected I'd definitely like to go to Rio [de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics].

"I want a really big PB [in Glasgow] and wherever that places me I'm happy with."


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