A Reluctant Hero

“Death tapped Pip on the shoulder and she promptly kicked him in the nuts and said, now is not my time”

Every now and again, you come across people whose story affects you profoundly. People dealing with adversity.  Survivors.  Fighters.  Individuals who, not through their own choice, are inspiring heroes to others.


In July 2016 I was lucky enough to be introduced to one such person, Pip Candrick.

As we have travelled on the coach/athlete journey together, I’ve had the privilege of doing something I’ve never had the chance to do for any athlete I’ve coached.  The chance to literally walk in her foot steps and run every step of her goal race with her.


Pip is a very reluctant hero. Diagnosed with a brain tumour 7 years ago, she went through 2 brain surgeries that left gaps in her memory, triggering her love for running and a deep sense of survival.

Pip runs for the same reasons as many of us.  The fitness aspect is an obvious one, and she also loves a challenge and isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries.  But bigger than that, Pip runs to feel ‘normal’.  She runs to remember, as running brings back her missing memories. She runs to feel alive.  She also runs in the hope she inspires others to explore their limits, and to raise awareness and much needed funds for the ‘Cure Brain Cancer‘ foundation.


Death tapped Pip on the shoulder and she promptly kicked him in the nuts and said, now is not my time. When we sat down for our first initial chat, she told her story in a very matter of fact way. The gravity of her health struggles were clear, but so was her determination and strength.  When someone with such tenacity and drive for life asks for your help as a coach, without doubt and without hesitation the only answer is YES.  Her big goal:  The epic Ultra Trail Australia 100km ultra marathon.


Due to the scar tissue left from surgery Pip can occasionally have seizures, so whenever she trains or races she needs a buddy to run with. For me this meant a unique opportunity to stand on the start line of the UTA 100 with one of my athletes, ready to share the adventure blow by blow.  I would be running the first 57km, then long time friend and running buddy Lauren would step in to see Pip through to the finish line.


Every person on the start line of an Ultra of this distance is ready to take on the day, not sure of what the trail ahead holds.  Nerves are high and the energy is literally chewable!  The race unfolds as it will.  The best laid plans are often thrown out the window as you continuously adapt to the terrain, may struggle with nutrition, go through highs and lows (both mental and physical)…and of course the monkey that appears on your shoulder occasionally to let you know you can stop anytime…. BUGGER OFF MONKEY!!


Along with 1300 other runners in the 100km and 1300 runners in the 50km event, Pip, Lauren and I ran, walked, laughed, encouraged each other, and got the job done. Never once did Pip doubt she would cross the line. We adjusted the sails for anything the day threw at us, rolled with the punches, and knew every step forward was a step closer to a dream achieved. The finish line hugs were a mixture of celebration, relief and realisation that something amazing had been achieved.


While I’ve coached some inspirational athletes for equally crazy races, world champs, personal bests and medals, this day will remain in my memory as one of the stand out moments of my coaching career.  Taking part in an event with an athlete is a pure privilege, and I want to thank Pip for trusting me with her journey above and beyond the normal realms of a coach.


I seriously have one of the best jobs on the planet! Being trusted with peoples’ dreams is both a pressure and a blessing.  Thank you to each and every one of our athletes for your trust, time and time again.  We know you don’t always appreciate our pushing (or nagging, as some might say!), but isn’t it seriously worth all the hard work when you cross that finish line…?!


– Coach Sarah Anne




Do you have a goal event?  Let us help you get to the start line in peak condition and ready to go, with a tailored Karmea Athlete Coaching Program


Want more UTA100?  Read Coach Sarah Anne’s 2015 Race Report





24 May 2017

By Sarah Anne




+61 420 923 067

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