Margie Gill
Sat, October 8, 2011 at 14:27
Stephanie Hunt in Carol Malcolm, Coffs Coast, Coffs Harbour, Interesting, MIPIK, Margie Gill, Most Interesting Person I Know, Person, Yvonne Briggs

Carol Malcolm thinks Margie Gill is the most interesting person she knows.  It’s Margie’s commitment to sport and fitness that fascinates Carol.  But she adds, “what is truly inspiring about Margie is that she always makes time to encourage and support other people to become as fit as possible.”  I’ve laced up my running shoes and am heading out to meet Margie.

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The Joy of Being Active

Café Urban on the Jetty Strip is teaming with people.  It’s Saturday morning and everyone looks like they’ve just come from a work out – Coffs weekend warriors and surf junkies are out in force today.  Plenty of fit looking people, but Margie doesn’t seem to be here.  After 20 minutes waiting in the cacophony of endorphin charged chatter, Margie arrives looking sheepish.  “I’m so sorry,” she apologises.  “I was at Ventoux Cycles buying parts for a 1967 bike I’m restoring and I just couldn’t get away.”  It seems pretty clear where Margie’s passion and priorities lie!

As our interview proceeds Margie happily acknowledges that exercise and fitness is indeed her passion and the focus of her life.  “I just love it,” she says.  “I’m not particularly good at anything but I just love being a part of it.”  This love of sport has shaped Margie’s life since her family moved to Sawtell from Tasmania when she was nine.  “I took up surf board riding and I joined nippers,” Margie enthuses. “My teenage years were so much fun.” 

And the fun continued.  Squash, basketball, running, skiing: Margie joined in whatever sport came along.  She met her husband Gavin through the squash club, and they eloped to Perisher to combine marriage with snow skiing.  Even breaking her leg on the honeymoon was only a temporary set back.  Within a year their son David was born and then came Ashleigh – but two children under three didn’t slow Margie down.  “I’d go to the gym or have a game of squash while David and Ashleigh played with the other children, or we’d go for a bike ride with the kids in the bike seat,” Margie explains.  At forty Margie joined the surf club and earned her bronze and also took on triathlon.  Now 52, Margie has become a fixture with the Coffs Harbour Triathlon Club, she’s competed in mini-triathlons right up to a half Iron Man and won her age group in the flag run at last year’s Australian Surf Championships:  she might be on the wrong side of 50 but she doesn’t look much like slowing down.

If you are forming a picture of one of those obsessive, competitive sports junkies, you have got the wrong idea about Margie.  She is remarkably relaxed.  It’s not about winning; it’s about getting out there and having a go.  And it’s about people.  “With sport you start off with something in common and then you meet people that you wouldn’t ordinarily mix with,” Margie explains.

Now perhaps you are imagining Margie as a well heeled, stay at home Mum with not much better to do than have a hit of the squash ball or go for a run, but you’d be wrong about that too.  Margie has had a nursing career that spans over 30 years.  Perhaps not surprisingly a life spent working in hospitals has reinforced Margie’s love of fitness and belief in the importance of health.   “I deal with sickness all the time and I work with people who have made poor lifestyle choices,” Margie explains with a note of frustration.  “I just wish I had time to help more with the day to day health of my patients.” 

Helping people into a healthier lifestyle is another thing that drives Margie.  “I love nothing more than seeing someone go from being unhealthy to feeling fit.  I think it’s a chain reaction.  They feel better so they ask someone else to go for a walk.”  Margie is currently working with a couple of her friends that want to get fit.  She meets up with them every Thursday morning and puts them through their paces.  She persuaded her friend Carol Malcolm to run in the Pink Triathlon which raises money for breast cancer.  “To see her go from stubbornly saying ‘I don’t run’ to running, swimming and cycling felt so good,” Margie says. She wishes she could do more.  “I’d love to see more healthy lifestyle programs,” she says.  “We need to make fitness easier and more accessible for people.”

So maybe now you’re thinking what makes Margie so interesting, she sounds like an ordinary person to me.  Well yes, she does sound pretty normal, but what makes Margie extraordinary is the example she sets for all of us.  She is not a great athlete, she doesn’t care about winning, and she’s not motivated by a big sporting contract or business opportunity: yet she gets up everyday and participates for the pure joy of it and then reaches out to help others join in.  That’s not just interesting, it’s inspiring.

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Margie says the most interesting person she knows on the Coffs Coast, is actually not on the coast at the moment, but living in Switzerland.  Yvonne Briggs is a “real” triathlete according to Margie, having represented Australia in the past.  She’s now an event broadcaster who has covered the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics and the World Cup.  She’s in Switzerland working for UEFA, and I can’t wait to get on Skype and find out all about her. 

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Article originally appeared on The Most Interesting Person I Know (http://themostinterestingpersoniknow.net/).
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