Attitude puts strugglers first in line

For 69-year-old Richard Clark and 8-year-old James Shadbolt, yesterday's Wellington Marathon was all about attitude.

Mr Clark, a retired film editor, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease last August. He said his motivation was to participate, not compete.

"I have no need to prove anything, especially to myself ... I needed to be open to the support of the team of pushers and supporters. I thank them," he said after the event.

James broke an ankle in April when he jumped off a wall while playing bull tag with his mates at Scots College.

He was in a cast for six weeks but was still determined to take part in the Kids Magic Mile event running alongside the marathon.

"At the start everyone cleared out and my dad and I were the only ones left," he said.

"On the home straight everybody clapped and I heard my name on the loudspeaker."

As he hobbled alongside father Thrain Shadbolt, he kept thinking about words of advice from top New Zealand para athlete Nick Ruane.

"The only disability is a bad attitude," James said Ruane told him before the event.

Mr Clark, who lives with partner Emily Friedlander in Featherston, agreed.

"Attitude is everything in this life," he said.

While being pushed round the 10km relay course, he remembered what a friend from his Los Angeles film industry days had once told him. "It is a question of attitude with gratitude."

Among his support team were Ms Friedlander, Moira Young and David Visser. They took turns pushing him round the course.

The film editor, who needs a breathing device at night, could not resist the temptation to video the event.

It brought back memories of when he represented Hawke's Bay in the national cross-country running championships at Trentham as a teenager, he said.

He also remembered old running pals Tony Curtis and Richard Weston. "Tony went with a heart attack. Richard went with cancer ... What can I say? I simply loved running. It was my life."

He joked after the race that he had done "enough training" and, "Oh yes, by the way, I'd love to be back for next year's event."

Sydney police officer Sara Burgess obliterated the Wellington women's marathon record.

Burgess completed her 10th marathon in a personal best 2hr 48min 40sec, lopping 12 minutes off Lotty Turnidge's 2009 time.

"I ran in Christchurch two years ago and we love New Zealand," said Burgess, who was cheered on by her husband and two young children.

"So when I saw there was one on in Wellington I thought we'll come over for a couple of days, just to have a bit of a holiday. It was windy in some sections but the course was just so picturesque, it was awesome and just such a well-run event."

Burgess picked up $1000 for her record run, as did Kenyan Kip Kemei, the son of a police officer and the winner of the men's half marathon.

Kemei had hoped to better his personal best of 1hr 4min 23sec but a combination of niggling injury, wind, and lack of competition, meant he settled for 1hr 6min 40sec.

It was Kemei's fifth straight half marathon victory on the New Zealand circuit since arriving in Wellington as a training partner for triathlete Martin van Barneveld. His time bettered Steven O'Callaghan's 2010 record.

"At the start it was too windy and I thought maybe I will not be able to break the record. But coming back it was easy," Kemei said.

"I had some pain in my calf and also after 15k, my shoulder was painful so I had to run with one arm."

Nelson's Graeme Taylor won the men's marathon in 2hr 33min 58sec, Anne-Marie Madden claimed the women's half marathon in 1hr 21min 36sec while Cameron Goldsmid (32min 25sec) and Sarah Drought (35min 56sec) were the 10km winners.

Related content: Provisional results

Contact Tim Donoghue
General reporter

The Dominion Post