New Zealand Woman’s Weekly




Ten years ago, my first book was published. It was called Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner, and told of my adventures in training for and running the Auckland and New York Marathons. It wasn’t my idea to write the book.

I certainly didn’t think my running was worth skiting about. But I was attending the launch of a book a friend had written and the publisher asked me if I’d consider writing about my exploits. In a moment of madness, I agreed and before I knew it, the deadline was upon me. I had to lock myself away in my office, uttering dire threats to the husband and child about what would happen to them if they dared to disturb me.

I was delighted when I was able to hand the manuscript over to my editor a little over a fortnight later. Book written, job done. It was such a relief until I woke bolt upright one night with cold dread chilling my marrow.

It’s all very well and good to write a book, but if no-one reads it, is it really a book? What if it ended up on the tables outside bookstores where they put all their unloved and unwanted books? Clive James wrote a famous poem called “The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindere­d”. That’s the first line and the second line is, “And I am pleased.” What if my enemies wandered past those tables, saw my book there and sniggered at the very idea that

I could write a book that people might like to read?

I needn’t have worried. There was another reprint before it went on sale, then it continued to sell and the publishers continued to reprint. It became a bestseller. Ten years on, it’s still selling today and so it was that this month, Harper Collins Publishers produced a special anniversar­y edition of my book with the follow-up, Short Fat Chick in Paris, included between the covers.

The book is no work of art, I used to be a book reviewer – trust me, I know these things. But what it did is give people who weren’t athletic at school, or who didn’t look like the long, rangy whitebait-type of people who run, permission to lace up their sneakers and get on out there.

Over the past 10 years, I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve told me they’ve run a half marathon or a marathon after reading the book because they thought to themselves, “If that fat, old booze hag can run one, I certainly can.” They didn’t say that in so many words, but that’s what they meant!

I’ve had more than a 1000 emails over the years with people telling me what they’ve achieved after reading my story. Captains of industry, judges, school cleaners, stay-at-home mums... and even a woman who trained for her marathon around a half netball court in prison.

I love women coming up to me at events telling me the only reason they’re on the start line is because of the book. It gives me a kick to think that my story was the catalyst for so many people doing something remarkable. I hope it continues to inspire many more people.

My coach and co-author Gaz and I are taking an anniversar­y tour to Argentina to run the Buenos Aires Marathon later this year, and my motivation to run is sadly lacking.

I can’t even run round the block! So I’m madly re-reading the book.

It’s time to begin the metamorpho­sis from Short Fat Chick to Marathon Runner again!

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