As part of our continuing series on the runners who are part of the Run For Femili PNG team, meet Gordon Peake.
Gordon’s first book, Beloved Land: Stories Struggles and Secrets from Timor-Leste, won the 2014 Australian Capital Territory Book of the Year and People’s Choice Award. Originally from Northern Ireland, Gordon moved to Canberra after meeting his Australian wife in Timor-Leste.
So you’ll actually be in PNG during Australian Running Festival, but will instead be raising money for Femili PNG by taking part in the YMCA half-marathon the week after. What takes you to PNG?
I travel up to PNG quite frequently. I work as an adviser on Bougainville and I’m also writing my next book about the country. PNG is a place that Australians don’t know much about, and I want to share what an amazing country it is. At a time where tourism is making far-off islands easily within reach, our closest neighbour feels like a place fading entirely from view, a place where few travellers willingly go.
The book will be in a similar style to my book about Timor-Leste: a blend of travelogue and personal experiences. Fascinating and interesting stuff is happening in PNG every day and I really want to write about the people, the places and the stories.
Why did you decide to fundraise for Femili PNG?
PNG’s biggest blight is this issue of violence against women. The statistics are shocking. Women from all walks of life experiencing various forms of violence. Case management centres and refuges provide places for survivors to turn to and provide valuable support services. Like in Australia, we are at the point where will always be more demand than supply, which makes the work of Femili PNG all the more important.
I really appreciate organisations like Femili PNG that do ‘unshowy’, necessary work every day. Femili PNG is a cause worth supporting.
You will miss the Running Festival, but you are competing in the YMCA half-marathon to raise funds for Femili PNG. Tell us about that.
I’ll be running in the YMCA half-marathon in Canberra on 26 May and seeking sponsorship for that run. I’m also competing in the Gold Coast Marathon in July. I’ve done one marathon before and it didn’t go well. I thought I’d get people to sponsor me for the half-marathon, just in case I didn’t make the full marathon…
How are you training for your half-marathon?
I totally screwed up training for my previous marathon, but I’ve since discovered online coaching through Pat Carroll. Pat sets you a training program, and I’ve been sticking to it religiously and we’ve factored the half-marathon for Femili into the schedule. We have now reached the point that my wife believes there are three people in our marriage – her, me and Pat Carroll!
So far, so good, I’m sticking to the schedule and I’m trying to stay away from the tempting buffets laid on in Port Moresby restaurants.
Have you always enjoyed running?
Not really. I spent a large portion most of 20s and 30s avoiding exercise but I have embraced it later in life. I worked for the Australian Federal Police in Timor-Leste, and some friends I worked with put me through an exercise program to get me match-fit for my wedding day. I spent ten weeks huffing and puffing in an old gym at the police headquarters in Dili and helped make me half the man I used to be.
The experience was a total shock to my system but through it I discovered that I liked exercising and have kept up the running ever since.
To sponsor Gordon’s half-marathon, and to support the work of Femili PNG, visit our fundraising page.
Interested in being part of the team? See here for further details.