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
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.