RUNNING STRONG: Bella Donaldson has beat the female record for Emerald parkrun.
RUNNING STRONG: Bella Donaldson has beat the female record for Emerald parkrun. Contributed

CH's record-breaking runner

RUNNING: Emerald local and Year 12 student Bella Donaldson has smashed the town's parkrun record for females with a new time of 19.36 minutes for the 5km course, and a personal commitment to one day make it as one of the top eight long-distance runners in Australia.

Bella, who ran the record-breaking time on January 19, beat the previous record of 20.22 set at Emerald's inaugural parkrun 18 months ago.

A 16-year-old boarding school student at St Margaret's Anglican Girls School in Brisbane, Bella comes from Bogantungan, 100km west of Emerald.

She said she was used to training in the heat and dust of tracks and roads around her family's property.

"Rural running makes you tough which is good. I train along the dirt roads - I go as fast as I can over the pot holes which is probably not the best technique but I haven't rolled my ankle.”

Now captain of her school's cross country club, Bella said she became dedicated to running as a sport when she reached high school.

Last year she reached Nationals for cross country, a 4km course at the Maleny golf course, placing 20th in her age group, and in a few weeks she'll compete at the Queensland State Championships for the 800m and 1500m events.

In April she's travelling to Sydney for the national level school championships for the 800m and 1500m races.

"I have four track sessions a week and two longer mid-week runs where I run anywhere between 12km-15km.

"They're quite relaxing and it's nice to get out.

"I always run with people except when I'm home on the property.

"I love running with my friends. It's a lot harder when it's just you.”

Bella said her long-term goal was to improve her rank within Queensland and compete in more Australian finals.

"I like where running can take you. I can go to Sydney and I've met so many different people. And I like the competitive side - it's very motivating and it makes me feel good.”

Craig Drummond, who has been involved with Emerald Parkrun since it began, said he was running behind Bella on the day of her record run.

"I wasn't directly behind her ... but I could see her in the distance!”

Mr Drummond, a passionate park runner who takes part weekly with about 160 others, said he was keen for people to realise they don't have to be a "runner” to enjoy parkrun.

"I'm pushing for everyone to take part. People who started walking are now running the whole way and then they're just disappointed that it's six days until the next one.”

Emerald parkrun participants meet at the Botanical Gardens every Saturday at 6.45am for a 7am start.


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