On the run to health and victory
TOMATO farming may be his job but running is his passion, and one Bowen resident is telling people it's never too late to enter a life of fitness and health.
Bowen tomato farmer Denis Couture recently competed at the Queensland Masters Athletics Championships in Brisbane, taking home first place in the 1500m 55-59 category.
The run saw him take out the gold medal in a time of 4:42.30, the quickest time recorded this year in Australia.
Although looking at the fit 57 year-old runner you could be excused for thinking he has ran his whole life, Mr Couture said that it was quite the opposite.
Until taking up running over three and a half years he was overweight with health issues that left him hospitalised for days at a time.
"I had a really bad back problem. I used to be able to hardly move it was that bad," Mr Couture said.
"I ended up slowly strengthening the muscles in my back and when it started to feel better I started slowly walking to help it recover."
Mr Couture said he started small, walking 20 minutes around the farm and easing into longer distances over time.
Once he felt comfortable and healthy enough, he built up the pace to a jog and then progressed to a run.
When comfortable with his fitness level, he began to enter races around North Queensland building up his finishing time with every race that he entered.
Although the quick leap to running success sounds like a miracle story, Mr Couture believes that with persistence and dedication anyone can find their health calling.
"I started at 35kg overweight, a bad back and not a lot of fitness," he said.
"I never thought I'd be able to do something like this but over the last three and a half years through persistence and slowly building up over time I've been able to get to where I am now.
"I think a lot of people are looking for an overnight change and get disheartened, but you need to believe in the process of training. Enjoy getting your heart rate up, getting active and stay persistent with it. Motivation gets you started, but discipline is what brings the results."
Mr Couture, who will be competing at the Oceania Masters Championship in Mackay later this year, believes that running is a fantastic exercise to take up in rural communities as you only need yourself and somewhere to run.
"You can run anywhere, you don't even need access to the outside if the weather is miserable. I do most of my running on a treadmill," he said.
"I have a running club that I am affiliated with but apart from that I train by myself. You don't need a club, or even a racing track to train. You can do it anywhere."
Mr Couture expects a competitive field at the Oceania Championships but is optimistic of returning with the gold medal.
It is recommended that anyone thinking of undertaking a new exercise regime consults a doctor first.