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12 Oct 2017

Southbanker Image

While many may meditate in the lotus position, Freshwater Place resident Nicolette van Wijngaarden says she meditates by running!

As the founder and director of Unique Homes, a boutique property agency specialising in the sale of luxury homes in the Asia Pacific region, Nicolette’s busy and travel intensive schedule requires a lot of energy.

And for Nicolette, she said running was her chance to get away from work and clear her mind.

“When travelling and working seven days a week, there needs to be some kind of balance and it’s very hard to find so no matter where I am, I’ve always got the sneakers in the suitcase!” she said.

“I’ll go for a run and I just find it such great downtime and thinking time but expending that energy also gives me energy. I find it really inspiring and mood uplifting.”

While running a marketing business in 2008, Nicolette told Southbank Local News that she had been asked by her partner to assist in the sale of a luxury home in Byron Bay he had spent seven years building.

Frustrated by efforts of other local agents, he sought Nicolette’s assistance to develop a fresh approach to marketing the property. After an extensive four-month campaign, she sold the property for a then record price of $7.7 million.

Off the back of this effort, she launched Unique Estates in 2009, which today has 43 staff, more than a billion dollars in property listings and offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Byron Bay, Perth, Gold Coast as well as Hong Kong!

She said much like real estate, her love of running had been something she had picked up and she encouraged anyone who else thinking about starting to have a go.

“I started a real estate business with no real estate experience and I started running with no fitness and an extra 13 kilos on the bones!” she said.

“You’ve just got to focus on the end goal. I think the thing that a lot of people forget is to enjoy the journey.”

Running on average of six mornings and 80 to 90 km a week, Nicolette said living in Southbank, within proximity to the Botanic Gardens, Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay, was a runner’s paradise!

However, while she loves to run for her own health, running has recently taken on a new meaning after learning that a friend had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme – a form of brain cancer.

Having already run the City2Surf event in Sydney in August, she is now preparing for a half-marathon as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival on October 15, to help raise money for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

“In July, we got back from overseas and found out that our dear friend had been diagnosed with brain cancer and it was such a helpless feeling,” she said.

“He’s got a lovely wife and two kids that are 13 and 15 and it’s hugely challenging for them but they’re a very strong family unit and very close.”

“He’s going really well. His spirit is so amazing and he’s such a fighter. He’s amazingly strong and very cheeky.”

As part City2Surf, she already raised more than $8000 to further the foundation’s efforts to find a cure, and as she gears up for her first half marathon, she said running continued to inspire her efforts.

“If I can help to raise awareness and find a cure than that is better than nothing,” she said. “Some believe that a cure can be found within our lifetime.”

“Other types of cancers have been so well supported because of some of the high profile people that have suffered it and so it would be lovely for brain cancer, which is so aggressive, to get a little bit more airtime.”

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