Port Stephens runners setting off for Japan for Wakashio Marathon

RUNNING ON: Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer in training with marathon runners (from left) Erin Brinkley, Angela McMillan and Roxanne Starr. Picture: Supplied
RUNNING ON: Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer in training with marathon runners (from left) Erin Brinkley, Angela McMillan and Roxanne Starr. Picture: Supplied

Soldiers Point's Roxanne Starr is a woman on the go.

The 34-year-old who works casually at Murrays Brewery is undergoing a career change from the Navy into full time study as a nurse at Newcastle University.

She has also been selected as one of three Port Stephens runners, along with Erin Brinkley and Angela McMillan, to represent Port Stephens in the Wakashio Marathon in the Port's sister city of Tateyama in Japan on January 26.

The marathon is an international event attracting thousands of runners each year.

"I have never run a full marathon but I have completed a few half-marathons. My goal after Japan is to finish a marathon next year," Starr said.

"I love running because you don't have to overthink it. Put some joggers on and explore tracks and water views around Port Stephens. I love that I can get a kick of endorphins and feel lots of good vibes from running, especially when running with like minded people who encourage each other at every level."

Starr said she jumped at the opportunity to travel to Japan after hearing about the sister city scheme through the Tomaree Trotters social running group page.

"I have not been to Japan before. I had flights booked last year I but had to cancel as mum was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer and I didn't feel it was the right time. Round two and I'm so lucky to be getting on board with a host family," she said.

"I feel fortunate to be representing a community and people that I know well. I want my Japanese hosts to be left feeling like Port Stephens is a place of beauty and adventure, with exciting and friendly people."

For 39-year-old physiotherapist Erin Brinkley, a member of the Hash House Harriers, the opportunity to run in the annual marathon is a dream come true.

"I have been a traveller professionally and for pleasure since 2005, but I remain connected to the Port Stephens community that I love. I have been to Japan to visit friends in Tokamachi, which has given me a more intimate perspective and understanding of the local culture," she said.

"I have participated in numerous 5km and 10km and 20km runs, as well as the Auckland Marathon in 2008, and I am hopeful that my knee tolerates strengthening and training to all me to complete the full marathon."

Angela McMillan has completed The Bridge Run, City to Surf, the 15km moon run through sand, hills and all sorts of terrain and the Blue Mountains 22km ultra run.

"I love Japan after taking a trip there in 2017 and have always talked about going back."