Health hero Jo to run into the sunset

Jo MacCarthy in last year's Bellarine Sunset Run. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

Hundreds are set to run into the twilight next month with organisers planning to go ahead with the Bellarine Sunset Run.

Long-time St Albans Park radiation therapist Jo MacCarthy was thrilled to return for her sixth half-marathon at the event after a challenging 2020.

“I can’t wait!” she said.

“I signed up the first day I realised registrations were open.”

The 44-year-old has not missed the 21 kilometre run since the event began, although she ruled out a personal best on this attempt.

“It definitely won’t be a PB,” she laughed.

“I think I’m going to take it a bit slower, enjoy the scenery and cheer on people who are overtaking me.”

MacCarthy has only just started getting back into serious training for the event.

“I think I need to step it out over the next four weeks,” she said.

But she already demonstrated she could take things in her stride last year, her 20th at Andrew Love Cancer Centre, by adapting to extra COVID-19 safety measures at work.

“You had to adapt very quickly,” she said.

“We’re still wearing masks and doing a lot of extra cleaning.

“All my relatives were in the lockdown region of Melbourne too – it made you realise how important it is to have family around you.”

MacCarthy has completed 322 parkrun events, including the five Bellarine Sunset Runs, since her first event in 2012.

“I hadn’t really done anything before that,” she said.

“I think the next week I beat my previous run by six minutes. It became this excitement each week of seeing how much faster you could go.”

Organisers are planning to run the 21km and 10km events at the Bellarine Sunset Run on February 13 but are holding off on a decision for the fundraising four kilometre Bully Buster event.

“We’ve sold out the last five years and had up to 1200 participants,” organiser Dion Milne said.

“At this stage the restrictions permit you to have 1000 but with everything that’s going on with COVID-19 in Victoria we’ve capped it at 500.

“If we’re going to increase, we’ll increase [closer to the date].”

Milne said COVID-19 safety would be top priority for the event and that he was finalising details for the starting and finishing procedures and other social distancing measures.