Lets start with a bit of my back ground. Basically, when it comes to exercise I was LAZY. It’s not that I didn’t want to do any, it’s just that nothing really took my fancy and let’s be honest……I couldn’t be bothered.

I was 20kgs over weight and suffered from arthritis in my back, hips, neck and feet. I also have degenerative discs in my spine which is probably what contributed to the arthritis. Some days I could barely walk if I sat for too long. Add to this, three years ago I had surgery on both my retinas after one detached and the other one ‘blew out’ after a coughing fit. So I actually had a lot of excuses not to exercise, right? Wrong!

This is my story on how I got to my First Full Marathon in August 2018.

In 2016 I lost those pesky 20kgs and started walking using a basic fitbit. I power walked 12kms in the 2016 Perth City 2 Surf, and when I crossed the finish line I was a new person. I loved the feeling of accomplishing something I had never thought possible. I was proud of myself.

But what brought me to running? My Father was losing his battle with Prostate Cancer and I had read that running could help with emotions and grief. I also had a friend at work who encouraged me to start running – which in my case was a whole 50m before I thought I would collapse. So, long story short(ish) in February 2017, I started running.


Dad and me before he got sick.

50m led to 100m then 1km and so on. I entered a number of fun runs, which was very daunting since I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know what to expect. Apart from City to Surf, I had never put myself out there in public before, let alone run in public.

Would I be ridiculed, did I have the right running gear, would I make the 5kms? – as it happened I had a great time and met so many new people.

Anyway, Dad was getting worse and wanted to travel back to Italy for one last family visit, so at the end of April 2017 we were on a plane to Italy. While in Italy, Dad kept telling everyone I was a ‘Marathoner’.

At this stage, I had only run 5kms consistently, so a slight exaggeration on his part. I did however, bite the bullet and ran my first Half Marathon in August at the 2017 Perth City to Surf.


Running Perth City 2 Surf Half marathon

In October 2017, I kept getting the same FB suggestion popping up in my feed. Something called RMA. Eventually I checked out this “RMA” and what it was all about. OMG – It was the weekend of the 2017 Runaway Barossa Marathon. So many ladies posting about their first Half and Full Marathons. The following week it was all about the Melbourne Marathon. I was hooked. If you ladies could do something like that, then perhaps I could as well so I told my Father that I was going to run a Marathon for him.

That month I started training and a couple of weeks in I injured my left Achilles when I ran back to back training days. 10kms one day followed by 12kms the next – an accident in navigation by some running friends.

I was devastated and thought that was it. No more running. But I found a great sports physio who put my mind at rest and promised me I would get to run my Marathon as long as I did as I was told. I didn’t have to stop running at all, just reduce the amount of kms for a few weeks.

Just to make things more interesting, I lost my Father at the end of November and then injured my right Achilles as well as suffering from hamstring tendinopathy on both sides, but I was allowed to continue training as long as I was careful about over- loading my Achilles.

I now had my eye on the Busselton Half in February 2018 which married in with my training plan. That would be my 2ndHalf.

Well, I had another setback when I got a grade 2 calf tear at the 15km mark in the Busselton Half. I limped the final 6 kms to cross the finish line where I was met by my RMA ladies. There was not going to be a DNF next to my name.

So I was ordered to have 1 weeks total rest and allowed to start back to 1-2 kms on a treadmill the following week to test the calf. 3 weeks later I was fine and back to running 5 – 8kms.


The RMA ladies helping me nurse my injury


I managed to complete a number of Half Marathons between March and October, using them as part of my training runs and adding extra kms onto the beginning or end of the runs. I found this to work a lot better for me than constantly running alone.

In April I received an email letting me know that Runaway Barossa was cancelled. I was devastated but the SA RMA stepped up and contacted Chris Glacks from Braverunners. He was more than happy to organise an event for the same date and so the Barossa Brave Marathon was created, a trail marathon. Now that was a game changer. Being so new to running and my training was for a road race, I had to make some hard decisions. I already had my airfares and accommodation booked so I was going to the Barossa, but did I want my first marathon to be a trail run?

I initially signed up to the Perth City 2 Surf marathon as a training run for the Barossa Brave thinking I’d run 36kms and walk the final 6kms to “Get a feel for the distance”. It was end of August so would be my last long training run before reducing down to taper, but by the end of May I had decided to focus on that as my goal marathon. That meant I had to cut 8wks out of the middle of my training plan, being mindful of the “Loading” on my Achilles. I didn’t want to aggravate either one leading up to the big day.

3 weeks before Perth City to Surf, I experienced pain in the tendons across the top of both feet. I was cleared of stress fractures and was told that as long as the pain only occurred after I cooled down and I took it easy, I was okay to run the marathon. There was a lot of Fisiocrem and ice used during those 3 weeks.

Finally the big day came and the Perth City to Surf Marathon couldn’t have gone any better. I think it was made even more special because of RMA.

  • The night before the marathon I received a Good Luck message from Kelly Mazzone, which came exactly when I needed it.
  • Sian White and Ilze Roux were also lined up at the marathon start line which helped keep me calm.
  • After the 36km mark where my husband waited to cheer me on and gave me a hug and a pep talk, I started hearing other RMA’s shouting out to me and pushing me on. (Jay Sprigg, Belinda Stirling, Linda Phillips)
  • And to top it all off, as I came around the corner to the finish chute, all I could hear were RMA’s shouting out my name and cheering me across the finish line.
  • So, through injury and loss I finished my first marathon with my RMA new friends, Natalee Mac, Loren Gee, Karin Smith, Rashanthi Wanagasera and Margarita Dominguez.
  • Best of all, having my husband meet me at the 36km was extra special because I knew I needed to see him for that final push, even though I knew he wouldn’t make it to the finish line in time.

Proud marathoner with my friends


Think Big and Aim Higher Ladies. It is possible, I have just completed my first Ultra and have some bigger goals in 2019 – while still managing my Achilles.

Rosa Haywood