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Masters runner on road to success

CATHERINE HEALY
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013
Meghann Stewart
FOOT FORWARD: Meghann Stewart with some of the medals she has earned since taking up running. 

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Meghann Stewart's journey from mother to world-class athlete began with a bootcamp.

"I went along with a girlfriend and couldn't walk the next day."

Gradually she began to get fitter and soon decided she quite liked running.

"I started looking into where old people go to run," she says.

Auckland Masters Athletics was the answer.

The Mission Bay resident met former Olympic athlete Barry Magee, who came up with a programme to improve her endurance and told her she'd make a good 800m or 1500m runner if she was prepared to train hard for it.

After coming second in a 5km road race she became part of an Auckland team.

"That was so cool. I'd never been asked to represent Auckland in anything," the 48-year-old says.

The more she trained, the more her times came down until she was encouraged to go to the New Zealand champs.

"I came first in the 400 and second in the 800."

Then it was on to the Oceania competition.

"That was exciting. I'd never raced against so many women my age."

She won the 800m and the 1500m and came second in the 400m.

In December last year she met her coach, Graeme Holden.

"He was training some Glendowie College kids at Glover Park and we got talking."

Mrs Stewart started joining the college kids regularly. It was tough but she knocked seven seconds off her times.

"Now I'm getting competitive internationally."

On Monday she left for Italy to compete in the World Masters Games.

Personal trainer Sean Dowling says Mrs Stewart has worked incredibly hard to get to this stage.

"Her journey and her story may be a source of inspiration to others, since she's only been running competitively for a couple of years."

At age 25 a tumour on her acoustic nerve had to be removed, leaving Mrs Stewart permanently deaf in one ear with some loss of vision and facial paralysis.

"It makes me want to fulfil every day.

"That's why I started painting. I wanted to be as productive as possible each day while I was being a mother."

She was quite successful and exhibited and sold her work around Auckland.

"People who've known me a long time are devastated that I've stopped painting, but it's just on hold. I can't do both."

While running can be quite insular Mrs Stewart says it has brought her so much fulfilment.

"I love fitness so much. Last year I did a personal training course. I just want my clients to be a little bit fitter and healthier, because your life is fuller."

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She says changing her lifestyle had a positive influence on her family too.

She gave up alcohol about the same time as her children were entering their teenage years and notices that her teenagers don't seem interested in drinking.

"I don't think my kids remember me ever drinking. It's good. They see that I can be totally silly without drinking."

Follow Meghann Stewart's progress at the World Masters Games on Facebook. Go to facebook.com and search MegaFit.

- East And Bays Courier

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