LIFE GOALS

As her best-sell­ing book on run­ning a marathon cel­e­brates its 10- year an­niver­sary, Kerre McIvor (nee Wood­ham) talks to three peo­ple who were in­spired to get fit and change their life as a re­sult

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

As her best-sell­ing book on run­ning a marathon cel­e­brates its10-year an­niver­sary, Kerre McIvor (nee Wood­ham) talks to three peo­ple who were in­spired to get fit and change their life as a re­sult

Afew months be­fore I was due to run my first marathon, I was at a book launch when the pub­lisher, Lau­rain Day, ap­proached me and asked if I’d con­sider writ­ing a book about my marathon-run­ning ex­ploits. I laughed and told her it was best to wait and see whether I’d ac­tu­ally get round the bloody course be­fore I con­tem­plated writ­ing about the ex­pe­ri­ence and thought noth­ing more of it.

But then, af­ter I had crossed the fin­ish line of the Auck­land Marathon in 2006, Lau­rain took me out for cof­fee and asked me again to write the book and this time I said yes. Af­ter all, the dead­line was six months away, which was an eter­nity. I was run­ning the New York marathon and surely there’d be sto­ries from that to help me fill a book. So I blithely signed a con­tract with HarperCollins, bought one of those proper mole­skin writ­ers’ note­books that I would fill with mar­vel­lous yarns and pithy one-lin­ers that I’d be able to pep­per through­out my book — and again thought noth­ing of it. Un­til a few weeks be­fore Christ­mas when Lau­rain rang to ask me how I was go­ing with the book. “Ah­h­h­hhh,” I said. “The book ... the book ... yes, the book ...” I was sound­ing like a de­mented chook. “I thought I’d write it over Christ­mas,” I said. “I’ll be able to re­ally craft it then — spend some time on it.” Lau­rain was hav­ing none of that. She cracked the whip and used my Catholic guilt against me.

I locked my­self away and within two weeks, I’d churned out Short Fat Chick to Marathon

Run­ner — padded out with train­ing tips from my run­ning coach and mate, Gaz Brown, and sto­ries from my fel­low run­ners. Phew. The re­lief. Book writ­ten, job done. But as the date of pub­li­ca­tion loomed, I be­gan wak­ing in the night, rigid with hor­ror. What if no­body bought it? What if it ended up on the ta­ble in front of book­stores with all the other un­wanted books, marked down to 50c? It’s all very well writ­ing a book but un­til peo­ple read it, is it re­ally a book?

HarperCollins had printed 8000 copies; that seemed an enor­mous num­ber. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry. De­spite the fact the book is no work of art, it sold and sold and sold and 10 years later, it’s still be­ing sold in book­shops. We’re on our eighth re­print and so far, more than 30,000 copies of Short Fat Chick and the fol­low-up, Short

Fat Chick in Paris, have been sold. I’m proud of that. But I’m even more proud of the peo­ple who have used the book as a cat­a­lyst to do some­thing amaz­ing them­selves. I’ve had more than 1000 emails and let­ters from peo­ple telling me the book in­spired them and I can’t count the num­bers of peo­ple who’ve told me, at var­i­ous run­ning events, that the only rea­son they’re on the start line is be­cause of the book.

I’ve waxed and waned over the years when it comes to run­ning. I’ve run Auck­land, New York, London, Paris (twice, be­cause it’s so gor­geous) and Queen­stown the year I turned 50, as well as nu­mer­ous half-marathons. Which is all very well and good but in be­tween marathons I bal­loon out to mon­u­men­tal pro­por­tions.

Run­ning isn’t a way of life for me; it’s some­thing I do when my favourite jeans don’t fit. I en­joy run­ning. And I en­joy the three months of early morn­ings, green smooth­ies and no al­co­hol I gen­er­ally in­dulge in ev­ery year. But I also en­joy long lunches and gor­geous food and wine, so life has been a con­tin­ual com­pro­mise.

To cel­e­brate the 10-year an­niver­sary of Short

Fat Chick, Gaz and I are tak­ing a group to run the Buenos Aires marathon. I haven’t moved into train­ing mode yet but I’m go­ing to have to get crack­ing in the next month or so. And I will. I gen­er­ally find the willpower to sort my­self out in time to make it to the start line.

As a way of cel­e­brat­ing the an­niver­sary edi­tion of Short Fat Chick, I wanted to share sto­ries from three run­ners, just a few from the thou­sands of peo­ple who’ve drawn in­spi­ra­tion from the book over years. They’re a di­verse trio, but they share a de­ter­mi­na­tion and a drive com­mon to peo­ple who take on the chal­lenge of run­ning a marathon — and suc­ceed­ing.

Kerre fin­ishes 755th, and 24th in her grade, in the 2006 Auck­land Marathon.

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