As far as the North Island goes, Wellington seems to be right up there for trail runners. Heather McDonald is no exception. From cross country running as a kid, building up to her first adult event, Wellington Round the Bays, running has always been an outlet for her.
Heather knows that life is always full of challenges, but it's a bit like running. A positive attitude and resilience will always get you through.
Dog mum to Astro the White Wolf, you'll often find Heather outside with various running groups around Wellington. About eight years ago she joined a women's running group, who were integral in introducing her to the trails (having previously been a road runner). Together they went on lots of amazing adventures and formed some solid friendships.
More recently, she has taken an active role in the Wellington Running Meetup (WoRM), a group of local runners who enjoy the social aspect of running as much as the running itself. After a trail run around the hills of Wellington you’ll often find them in the pub enjoying burgers and beverages - and, on a hot summer’s evening, jumping into the harbour for a post-run swim.
Never far from a smile or a kind word, Heather's positive outlook means she's not afraid of a challenge.
When the Motatapu Marathon was cancelled with one week’s notice due to Covid early in 2021, Heather stepped up to design a bespoke running event for her friends. Race Director Heather created a course around Wanaka, set race regulations and produced bibs as well as overseeing event day so her friends could enjoy their planned weekend away. It went so well she was called on to do it again when the Taupo Ultramarathon was cancelled later that year.
She doesn't take life too seriously, and you'll often find her giving back to the groups she runs with. Having previously helped organise aid stations for the Wuu2K event in Wellington, this year she is planning to both volunteer and run in the event and is really looking forward to being out there with her fellow trail lovers.
Heather has some awesome personal races on the cards this year, from fast and fun Xterra trail races to tough ultramarathons. Having completed two 100km ultras now, including an epic 20 hour journey around Rotorua during a cyclone, she is keen for more endurance events that test her limits. It’s not all about running though - she also likes to mix it up with hiking, mountain biking and rogaining (a form of orienteering).
Her advice for women out there? Appreciate the little things. The views at the top of the climb, the sun shining (she does live in Wellington after all), and never underestimate your own ability to brighten someone else's day!
When she's not out on the trails, Heather works full time in communications. You'll also find her walking Astro and exploring the best brunch spots in Wellington with friends. And you know they'll be planning their next runventure together.