BEXI Achievers 2017

At the end of each year, we get together to celebrate the successes of our BEXI athletes. It’s a time to reflect on all the events that we’ve taken part over the year and toast those who have worked hard to achieve their goals.  2017 was a busy year – so at the outset, I’d like to congratulate every BEXI member for stepping out of your comfort zones and committing to some pretty amazing goals.

Huge congrats to our our top 2017 achievers:


  • Most Improved BEXI Athlete 2017 – Ann Velthuis

This very shy, quiet young lady, joined our BEXI team in 2016. She had a few niggles she was working on, but she turned up every week for every session. Her speed improved, her fitness improved, her confidence improved… and all of a sudden she was taking on the Level 2 training with the other girls. Huge congrats to Ann Velthuis for her tenacity to keep trying. You are a true inspiration Ann.

  • Most Determined BEXI Athlete 2017 – Roslyn Meyer

Without a doubt, this lady is truly deserving of this award. Her commitment and drive to focus on her goal was outstanding. She set her heart and soul on her New York marathon and made many sacrifices along the way. She never missed a training session, she was always motivated, she trained hard and she inspired so many around her. Roslyn Meyer you were 100% determined to achieve your first marathon goal – it was an honour to support you on the sidelines. Well done!

  • Most Inspirational BEXI Athlete 2017 – Sue Naylor

This BEXI athlete has absolutely blossomed this year. She started off with a half-marathon this year. Feeling a little deflated, she decided to focus on shorter distances for a while — that was until she was talked into trying a triathlon. Thinking it was a good idea, she bought a hybrid bike… and the rest, as they say, is history.  Huge congrats to Sue Naylor, for absolutely embracing her new-found passion of triathlon and being so completely focused and committed. Sue has truly flourished right before our eyes. Well done Sue!

  • Most Outstanding BEXI Athlete 2017 – Vicky Dawkins

This BEXI Athlete’s list of achievements is vast! She never stops. It is exhausting just reading the list of all the activities she has done this year. Suffice to say, this lady is determined to achieve. She continually pushes herself out of her comfort zone, never quits – even when the going gets tough. Is supportive of her BEXI buddies around her – and often inspires them to join the journey with her. Outstanding effort Vicky Dawkins.

BEXI Ambassador 2018 – Kaye Chan

Each year we recognise a very special BEXI athlete who lives and breathes our BEXI values.  She supports other members, inspires those around her, motivates others to achieve their goals, leads by example, lives a balanced life, is a great community-player. Not only is this person committed to developing herself, she is also committed to helping others and their communities.

This particular person often sacrifices her training to support others. She will willingly volunteer to support others, often making plans to meet up and train together. She will gladly put her hand up to lead our 5km runners, to co-ordinate training programs, to manage logistics for various programs… and so much more.

This special lady is selfless and absolutely thrives on supporting others. We are indeed very privileged to have this person as a very key member of our community. Congratulations to Kaye Chan on being our BEXI Ambassador for 2018.

Special mention goes to some key BEXI community members for working hard to fulfill their personal dreams:

  • Canberra Marathon – Louise Grigg and Dee Fitzgerald
  • Diamond Women’s Triathlon – Kate Marshall
  • Ironman 70.3 Cairns – Michelle Nicholas
  • Gold Coast Marathon – Hannetjie Brooks
  • Gold Coast 10km – Nicole Woolley
  • Blackmores Sydney Half-Marathon – Kasey McKee
  • Long Course Weekend Triathlon – Vicky Dawkins
  • New York Marathon – Roslyn Meyer and Hannetjie Brooks
  • Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney – Kaye Chan
  • Most BEXI Medals and Best BEXI Cheerleaders – Keiren Barham & Sue Naylor
  • Best BEXI Refreshments Supporter – Plezi Brennan

Congratulations on an absolutely outstanding 2017 – feeling very excited about 2018. We have a huge calendar of events for 2018 – can’t wait to get going.


It takes all of you!

It inspired me, it overwhelmed me, it humbled me, it took all of me! The spirit of the Comrades Marathon.

On Sunday 4th June 2017, I had the enormous privilege of standing on the start line of the Comrades Marathon 2017.  It was an absolute dream-come-true. As a kid growing up in South Africa, I was brought up having a huge appreciation for this race. Every year the race was televised from the start to the finish – 12hrs+ of viewing – the South African nation was caught up in the grips of the Comrades fever. I was in awe of the runners who took part and had a huge respect for each and every one of them.

At 5am on the 4th June 2017, I was huddled in my starting chute with my gorgeous hubby, Martin, and good friends Sue & Richard Ollerhead. It was dark, the atmosphere was electric – combination of nerves and excitement – lots of people rushing to get into their starting chutes… and then the singing started. The entire field of 20k runners were singing Shosholoza and the South African national anthem – it truly brought a lump to my throat. This was followed by the music of Chariots of Fires (again, very emotional), then the iconic Max Tribold’s Cock Crow…. and bang, the start gun at 5.30am. And we were off!

I can recall the entire experience step-by-step, but will save that for another post. Instead, I wanted to share a few (of the many) special moments that truly touched me:

  • As a South African brought up in the apartheid era, I was completely humbled by the spirit of the Comrades. Blacks, whites, nationals, internationals – everyone was united by the raw emotion of the Comrades. Throughout the entire day, the 20k field of runners were cheering and supporting each other along the way. No matter who you were and where you came from, we were all equal – united in this beautiful sport.
  • The support on the day is second to none. There are crowds of supporters from start to finish – the entire 88km. Singing, dancing, cheering, calling out your name, handing you food, drinks, spraying you with water – creating the most amazing atmosphere! You truly felt like an elite runner competing in the Olympics.
  • The organisation of the race is on par with the Olympics. It is flawless! From pre-race registration, the ongoing communication, international ambassadors for each country, race registration, expo, hospitality, logistics, refreshments every 2km, choice of refreshments, pacing buses, entertainment, medals, photos, etc. All international runners, together with their supporters, had access to an international tent at the finish where they were served food and drinks all day. It was position right next to the finish line – so truly amazing for our families/supporters.
  • On the Friday before the race, I joined the international athlete course tour. Part of the tour was to visit the Ethembeni School for the Disabled – one of the Comrades official charities. As the bus stopped, the children we waiting for us with welcome signs for each country. Despite being faced with adversity, these children had the biggest smiles on their faces. They sang and danced for us and gave us each a beautiful, hand-made beaded bracelet. The colours of the bracelet were those of the Comrades Marathon and Ethembeni School, and consisted of 88 x beads – one for each km of the race. There was hardly a dry eye in the audience.
  • After the tour I was hanging out in the hotel lobby. Sitting next to me was a young African runner who was chilled and relaxed. His buddies came to join him and sat down for a cup of tea. There was much excitement in their conversation (in Zulu/Xhosa). At one stage I overheard them talking about their race pace of 3.50-4.00/km. I looked over at them and asked if they were planning to run the race at that pace. They all laughed and their coach asked me if I knew who they were. They were the gold-medal runners! (Ludwick Mamabolo finished 4th in 5:42; and Sphiwe Ndlela 6th in 5:45.) Truly humble and super-friendly gentlemen.

Two weeks later and I am still on a high. This event is without doubt one of the most rewarding races I have ever done! Now to consider returning next year for the ‘Back-to-Back’ medal…

It was tough, for sure… but that’s what makes finishing all the more sweeter.

Below are a few low-res pics taken on the day… enjoy! 

If we always do what we know we can do, we never grow…

Reflections of Coastrek 2015

I am continually inspired by our wonderful Beauty of Exercise team who put their heart, sweat and tears into training and preparing for various events. This year’s Coastrek – 55km coastal walk from Palm Beach to Balmoral – is another example of true camaraderie. Below is a heartfelt insight from one of our ‘BEXI Trekkers’…

As I sit in my cosy warm home this morning I am grateful that today is not the day to embark on a 55km walk. It is grey and misty today, a far cry from the beautiful sunny day of Friday 6th March, 2015… the day of Sydney’s Coastrek. This is an event that brings together over 3500 people, with the aim of walking 55km over every beautiful beach and headland between Palm Beach (on the northern beaches of Sydney) to Balmoral. All in the aid of the Fred Hollows Foundation, which brings sight back to the needlessly blind. But the walk was more than just fundraising for a great cause. It is about grit, determination and most importantly about camaraderie and great friendships.

As the seasoned coastrekker in the group (ie. I had attempted it a few years ago), I knew what was ahead. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of all the ladies in the BEXI Trekkers team (walkers and support crew), I got up early on the hallowed sleep-in day (Sunday) to join in the training walks. These days were great fun and a wonderful way to start the day. Who can pass up the opportunity of a ‘gentle’ beach stroll, a good chin wag and a good coffee… and all at the same time. Heaven really!

But as the day got closer trepidation set in. Our fundraising goal was achieved (and superceded thanks to the generous souls out there). The support crew and logistics for the day were organised. However, I knew what was ahead of me and knew that it was not going to be all rosy. The sore feet, sore legs, blisters and SAND …. everywhere !

We arrived at Palm Beach early in the morning to be greeted by the most magnificent sunrise to start the day. Someone upstairs had been listening. The weather was not too wet, not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. Perfect really!

The air was filled with excitement but despite the laughter and banter there was a little bit of anxiety in the air as well. Yet all that anxiety melted away when we crossed the start line heading down Palm Beach, heading for Balmoral in the distance, somewhere. I could go on forever but that would be boring so I’ve listed some of the highlights :

  • A early morning snack of Lemonade icy-pole. Liza, how did you know that that would hit the spot perfectly.
  • Coming off Mona Vale beach and seeing our angels, the beautiful smiling faces of Liza Dukino and Ingrid Taylor waiting with cold drinks and cold watermelon… exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • Narabeen Lagoon – our support crew of angels and head angel, Debbie Solms.
  • The salty chips at Long Reef. Again, exactly what was needed.
  • Dee Why – Ingrid placating Lisa after her icy pole fell on the ground. (Best lower lip action I’ve seen in quite some time!)
  • Manly – our on-call coffee crew.
  • Balmoral – everyone! And the champagne at the end was perfect.
  • Lisa’s video blog – she left the best til last. (Amazing the effects of drugs and alcohol!)
  • Camadarie amongst all the walkers, the volunteers and the locals who were out cheering everyone on.

I cannot finish off without thanking my team. There were times (esp Warriewood-Collaroy) when I was struggling. However, they were there to encourage and support me all the way. They would wait for me and never complained at how slow I was walking. I think that without me they would have done the walk in a record time! However, we were in it as a team…and everyone knows that Together Everyone Achieves More!

  • Kirsten Prescott – She had been quite ill during the week but hadn’t said anything to the team as she didn’t want to let us down. As if they were even remotely possible.
  • Lisa Bale – She pushed through despite the horrific blisters that started fairly early on in the walk. Not a complaint from her either.
  • Kym Gray – A fine example of consistency and determination. She didn’t waver at all during the whole time, and all done with a great smile.
  • Liza Dukino, Ingrid Taylor and Debbie Solms – being at the right place at the right time and saying the right things. Your support means more than you’ll ever know.
  • And last but certainly not least, my family – for putting up with me being away and grumpy and sleeping all day the following day.

55km’s in 14.5 hours is not easy but with the help of gusty, determined, yet gentle, caring and beautiful souls it was a day I shall hold dear.

Lucia Hains
Bexi Trekker, March 2015


Camaraderie at the Fore

The Oxford English Dictionary defines Camaraderie as ‘the mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together’.

That is exactly what our community at Beauty of Exercise (BEXI) is all about. We support each other through the lo’s, celebrate the hi’s… or just have a good laugh with each other.  

A perfect example was at our interval training session earlier in the week. We had three groups training together – 1) Run-FIT; 2) Race-FIT half-marathoners; and  3) Race-FIT marathoners. It was a very tough session – 2km | 1.5km | 1km | 800m – all at fast tempo paces. The final 800m rep was intended for the marathon group only.  The other two groups were gloating that they had finished and didn’t have to do another rep… until they noticed their ‘buddies’ getting ready for the last rep. Not wanting to leave them unsupported, they jumped up and rallied around them for their final 800m rep.

This truly highlighted what an awesome Beauty of Exercise community we have fostered over the past 3yrs. One which is filled with a great sense of camaraderie, team support, motivation and inspiration. Our BEXI community are always there for each other – if someone needs a buddy to run with, we are there to support them. If someone is having a bad day, we are there to lift them up. If someone  is lacking motivation, we are there to inspire them. The true spirit of our BEXI community. That’s what makes us so special. That’s what we love so much!

Debbie Solms

Debbie Solms is an accredited Personal Trainer, Run Coach and founder of Beauty of Exercise – an inspiring women’s running group on Sydney’s Northern Beaches