Quoted with permission from the News Section of the Rapid Ascent Website https://www.rapidascent.com.au
Stories From Our Humble Volunteers shines a spotlight on some of the extraordinary stories of our humble volunteers. In the first of many articles to come we let Kester Baines take the reins and tell his story. Kester has volunteered with Rapid Ascent since inception in 2004. An incredible effort to say the least. Read on to find out what drives Kester to keep coming back to our events year after year.

It All Started With The Melbourne Marathon

I run for many reasons, some of which were not obvious to me when I started!

When I was doing my naturopathic course back in the late 1970s, one of my fellow students was a marathon runner. We stayed in touch and I went to watch him finish in the 1987 Melbourne Marathon. I found I loved the atmosphere, the spectacle, and the inspiration of seeing “ordinary” people pushing beyond their perceived limits to achieve a personal goal.

Despite my then sedentary lifestyle, I started to run, initially gasping my way around the block for ten minutes. Towards the end of 1988, I completed my first Melbourne Marathon. At that time, the race was from Frankston to Melbourne, with the finish line outside the Arts Centre. The feeling of exhilaration, on making the turn out of Fitzroy St and onto St Kilda Rd, and the sense of knowing that nothing was going to stop me now, is something I will never forget.

Until you have done one, you’re never sure that it’s possible for you! More prosaically, I like to keep fit, be an example to my clients, enjoy the camaraderie of events and the solitude of running in training—time to think or zone out, especially in natural surroundings.


A Rotarian For Almost 3 Decades

I’ve been a Rotarian now for 26 years. Before I joined, I knew Rotary was an organisation which did good things in the community, but that was it. When a local restaurateur, Des MacRobbie, asked me why I wasn’t a Rotarian, I said I didn’t know. It was probably because no-one had ever asked me!

I came to meetings over the next few weeks at an ungodly hour on Wednesday mornings, liked what I saw, and, despite the fact that I’m sure some members didn’t know quite what to make of this slightly weird vegetarian naturopath, they let me join!

The Kardinia Rotary Club has come to be a big part of our lives. It’s a great bunch of people—we have a lot of fun together while doing some really good community and international projects, helping to build friendship and understanding and doing our best to make the world a better place. Both Suzanne and I have been president of the club, and I am especially proud of the three years I was chair of our Rotary district’s Preserve Planet Earth Committee.

In 2005, the centenary of Rotary, some French Rotarians got the idea to have at least 100 Rotarians from around the world running in the Paris Marathon. I thought, “Wow, that’s really for me!”, and they actually got about 230 Rotarians participating, including another member of our club, Keith Fagg, and me!

Out of that, the International Marathon Fellowship of Rotarians was formed, and every year we meet in a different city—last year was Queenstown, NZ, and this year, Reykjavik, Iceland! We’ve made some great friends through the fellowship, had some members stay with us and we have enjoyed the hospitality of IMFR friends in Europe.

And A Volunteer At Rapid Ascent Since Day 1

I’ve been a volunteer for Rapid Ascent events since the club was asked to help out at Rapid Ascent’s first event, the Lorne adventure race in 2005. We worked at that event for the decade it ran, and also at the Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon and the Surf Coast Century ultramarathon up to the present day.

Initially I just saw it as a fundraising opportunity for the club but now I see it as much more. John and Sam and the rest of the Rapid Ascent team are great people to work with. The events are very well organised, but most importantly we are helping to facilitate events which promote fitness, personal development, appreciation of the natural environment, and which support the local economy and tourism.

For anyone considering volunteering, I would say, just do it! It’s hard to pick a favourite moment —so many things come to mind:

Helping competitors with broken bikes or disoriented or injured bodies, or just needing some water or a word of encouragement; cheering on every winner as they finish even if it’s a couple of hours after an elite athlete crossed the line in first place.

The friendly chats with participants and the opportunity to get to know our fellow members better. Or just taking a moment to appreciate a tall pink hyacinth orchid next to the track.

I think my favourite job as a “vollie” for Rapid Ascent would have to be the times I was tail-end Charlie for the run leg of the adventure race—14 km of beach running, rock scrambling and up into the forested hills behind Lorne.

But working in the Yaugher Forest for the Odyssey is great too.