A marathon win for wool

29 June 2015

Woolgrower Sally Beggs completed the 119th Boston Marathon earlier this year wearing the fibre she grows at the family’s ‘Nareeb Nareeb’ property near Glenthompson in Victoria.

Sally Beggs training in Merino wool
Sally Beggs training in Merino wool on her family’s property in Victoria, Australia.

Crossing the finish line in a personal best time was a triumph for Sally and the industry she represents. Helping her get through the 42.195 kilometres was a range of Merino wool activewear from Vie Active and Smitten Merino - a great addition given the very cold and wet conditions on the day.

Some of the competitors less well-dressed sadly became hypothermic and 36 were hospitalized with hypothermia.

“I can’t control the weather but I can control what I wear and various layers of Merino wool kept me warm and very comfortable throughout the race. I know that from running in wool in all conditions around the farm. I am sure the sheep approve given they have been wearing it for much longer than I have,” Sally laughs.

The Boston Marathon is described as the pinnacle for many runners and it was after the tragic bombing of the race in 2013 that Sally decided to have a go at it. Starting amongst the Merinos on the family property, up and over the countless hills around Glenthompson, Dunkeld and Penshurst she quickly realized she loved it.

Being fiercely competitive she has now completed six marathons and seven half marathons, inspired by people such as Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run and complete the Boston Marathon in 1967 at just 20.

Running non-stop for 3 hours, 35 minutes and 37 seconds gives you a lot of time to think. As someone who doesn’t listen to music during a race, Sally often thinks about what she is wearing and the significance of it to her.

“Starting with the Merino beanie from Smitten, I think of Tasmania and its rugged beauty; I then go through everything else I wear including the Vie Active top and the sheep that grow the fibre. Naturally I think about our farm, Richard and our three boys. I eventually work all the way to my socks that come from Geelong in Victoria. It’s a great mental exercise to distract you from wanting to stop.”

Vie Active is one of Australia's premium high-performance fitness fashion labels. Merino wool used in their range can easily handle the intensity of a tough workout. Flat seams, layered pieces, eye-catching prints, breathability, quick dry, moisture-wicking and antimicrobial performance are some of the features of these Australian Merino garments Sally loves.

"I love the high-performance functionality of wool, not only for running but for everyday wear, no matter what the weather. It’s soft, breathes, doesn't smell, it’s natural and best of all it is home- grown," Sally adds.

After many years of trade show exhibitions and other marketing by The Woolmark Company and industry participants, wool is no longer a novelty in sports and active-outdoor wear. Wool can be seen in the ranges of most large brands in the market. Merino wool for next-to-skin wear and broader wool in wadding is now seen in the ranges of companies such as Nike, The North Face, Kathmandu, Adidas, Ortovox, Under Armour, I/O Merino and Mountain Designs. This market may only represent about 5 per cent of the global apparel market but it continues to grow and as a natural fibre, wool is being increasingly sought after.