Raglan Four Square cashier Mandy Baitson reckons that not so long ago she would have thought anyone who suggested she go for a run was mad.
But in two years the self-confessed couch potato has turned her life around — and this week was back at work with sore shoulders and legs, and a medal, to show for completing the gruelling Huntly half marathon last Sunday.
It all started for the diminutive 49-year-old mother of three nearly grown up boys when she took on two “12-week challenges” at the now closed down Raglan Fitness Centre on Wallis Street.
From there she continued with personal training sessions from the gym’s former owner Jack Grace — who she says has become “like a brother” to her — then progressed to her own training runs not much more than a year ago.
Mandy was on cloud nine back at work on Monday morning, and already thinking about the Taupo half marathon in October.
“I feel so spaced out,” she said of her achievement. “It’s like a dream.”
“I’ve never run that far (21 kilometres) before. If you’d said two years ago that I’d even be running, I’d have laughed at you.”
Mandy reckons her world of weight loss and personal training has turned her personal life around too, with a “whole new bunch of friends and a new partner” to show for it.
With some of them running alongside for support and egging her on, there was no way Mandy was going to give up and start walking the half marathon when the going got tough last Sunday. “I didn’t want to let myself down.”
“Arms, legs, shoulders,” she kept repeating to herself like a mantra, taking up Jack’s advice that when her legs got too tired to try instead to focus on the upper body so her legs would work automatically.
Her breathing was good, she reckons, although the last three kilometres of the 21km course was “really hard … I was dragging my feet.”
But with the end finally in sight, she went “like a bullet” just as she had done on the 12-week challenges — another victory for Baywatch Babe Raglan, as she was nicknamed.
A glass of bubbly from fellow half marathoner Cheryl Kerr followed, then later an elated Mandy joined other locals who completed in the event for a celebratory dinner out at the Harbour View Hotel.
While her time of just over three hours (3.03.48) didn’t exactly put her up with the leaders, Mandy got something to hang proudly around her neck all the same. All participants in this year’s half marathon received a medal to signify the iconic event’s 30th year.
In all more than a dozen Raglan area entrants completed the half marathon. The local contingent was led home by accomplished veteran marathoner Marion Millward (1.26.05), followed by Hariet Waffenschmidt (1.30.12) and Mac Keene (1.35.37), while Raglan teen Eddie Young came home in 1.51.19. Edith Symes