She describes herself as obsessed with sport, especially running and triathlons, but when gold medallist Melanie Melville talks about her achievements she remains humble and sees it as an added bonus to her passion for sport.
Melville added another gold medal to her collection after winning the female open category in the 42,2 km of the third annual Mall of the North Marathon on Saturday. She entered the finishing shoot in a time of 3:18.59.
Melville who has participated in five Comrades Marathons and received the Bill Rowans medal for each of the races has also done two Two Oceans, an Iron Man competition, several XTERRAs and ample mountain bike races.
She said the Mall of the North Marathon is certainly the best race Limpopo has to offer and Saturday’s event was quite challenging. “It was a different route this year with some steep hills which created the perfect training for Comrades athletes. The out-and-back route was awesome as you get to motivate and encourage team mates in the hot conditions. The water points did an excellent job in keeping athletes hydrated,” she said. The Comrades Marathon is on her bucket list again this year.
Her love for sport came from a very young age. “My father was a good athlete and I would nag to go with him when he went running. At the age of about 16 I was able to run long distances without any hassle. I fell in love with sport as a youngster and it just never faded.”
For her running is time alone – a time for her to be with the Lord. “It is such a blessing to be healthy and it would not be fair not to enjoy what He has given me. Just by living to the fullest is already the biggest part of achieving my goals and dreams and that is why winning is just a bonus. Running is also a time where I discuss problems or issues with the Lord,” she said.
As a perfectionist and someone who likes routine, following an exercise programme is best for her to prepare for a race. “Because of my routine personality I prefer to train alone then I know exactly what I have to do and that it will be done. I ensure to take in enough protein and minimise sugary food and drinks. But because I am a hard trainer I will have a piece of cake when I get the craving,” she said.
Being married to a medical doctor fitness is important to her. “So many diseases can be avoided just by being active. Sport is also a massive stress reliever which is crucial for mind, body and soul.”
Melville also has some advice for those planning on either starting to get fit or who wish to improve. “Explore the variety of sports and see what tickles your fancy. Where you find love, you will put effort in and excel. With love for sport comes passion. Set short-term goals, especially when you are a beginner, to avoid losing interest. Get a partner who is motivated and goal-driven to support you during exercises and races,” she said.
Melville’s next big event is the three-day mountain bike stage race, Sani to Sea which attracts the interest of both local and international competitors. The event is hosted in May and starts on a farm on the Sani Pass and finishes at the Scottburgh main beach with a total of 273 km to be completed over three days.
Story and photos: RC Myburgh