One Hundred Marathons. That’s 4220 Kilometres or 2637.5 miles. I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in; Got it? Cool. Kiri Price completed this goal a few weeks ago at the Legend Marathon in West Auckland. The Legend is no joke, as it climbs through the Waitakere Ranges and streets of West Auckland, following the routes of Arthur Lydiard’s infamous group runs.
Kiri ran her first marathon at Rotorua in 1997 and her second in 2003, after having a break to have three children. The take home learning from this? Kiri Price is tougher than you. As well as being tenacious, Kiri embodies the virtue of giving back to others who need assistance to do something that we take for granted, run. Kiri has been involved with the Achilles international, a charity which helps assist disabled athletes participate with able-bodied athletes in mainstream running events. Kiri was generous enough to answer our questions around the completion of her amazing achievement, her background, motivation, and Achilles International.
How many years have you been a runner or involved with running culture?
I didn’t really run a lot when I was younger. I ran a few 5, 10 km and half marathons, nothing too serious. It was when I got back from my OE that I got involved in the fitness industry (I trained as a Personal Trainer). I went for my first ‘real’ run with my Dad’s Takapuna Harriers group one night – I loved it – we did a 10km run, I enjoyed it so much, and someone said “you run like your Dad” which I took as a huge compliment – and then I started doing a bit more. In 1997 I did my first marathon at Rotorua – the same weekend that my Dad was doing the London Marathon. I finished in 3.54 – and loved it! It was however 6 years later (and 3 children) that I got back into marathoning and I joined the Auckland YMCA Marathon Club, so that would really be the start of my ‘serious’ running.
Why did you start running?
My Dad is a marathon runner (he’s completed 28 marathons and 140 + half marathons) so I grew up inspired by my Dad;I used to accompany him to his marathons as well so I guess I was destined! I didn’t really enjoy running at school as it was short and fast, and I wasn’t great at netball or other sports. But I found that in my late twenties I could run for a long time at a comfortable pace, and I wasn’t too bad at it after all – and that’s when I discovered that I loved the challenge of the marathon distance.
Who are your greatest influences in the running scene past or present?
First off my Dad, he inspired me to do my first marathon. Then when I started working in the fitness industry – the first gym I worked in was owned by Howard Healey (he represented NZ in the 3000m steeplechase in the 70’s) and I also worked alongside Dale Warrander (New Zealand marathon champ). I have also been an Auckland YMCA Marathon Club runner for the past 12 years so have had been surrounded by so many amazing runners there. Six years ago I started working at AUT Millennium, which is a hugely inspiring place to be as you are constantly amongst top athletes and coaches from all sporting codes there. About 4 years ago I also started working with Gaz Brown at GetRunning – so both of my part-time jobs are to do with running. Most of my friends are also marathon runners, and some of my closest friends are also members of the New Zealand 100 Marathon Club – so there’s been absolutely no shortage of runners around me to inspire or motivate me over the years.
How would you describe yourself? both as a person and a runner?
I’m actually quite a quiet person, and that’s what I love about running, is the time in my own head. There’s also the whole thing about being outside and getting to see the most amazing places, places that you’d never normally get to. The runners that I work with at AUT Millennium laugh at me as I will often stop them just to marvel at the sunrise! I like to help others achieve their running goals and hopefully I inspire or motivate others by showing them that if I can do it – then they can too. I am very goal driven and set myself long term goals, which I quietly work towards. As a runner I’m very happy and proud of what I achieved prior to getting injured (I had two serious injuries about 3 years ago which also required surgery) – my marathon PB was 3.31, I made it to the Nationals four times for Cross Country and Road – and I’ve managed to tick off 100 marathons and 50 half marathons, so I haven’t done too bad! The first 50 marathons I pretty much did for myself, and the second 50 I’ve actually got so much out of in so many areas – I’ve run with friends, I’ve managed to help others (through pacing or just being there), there’s been no time pressures on me to run fast and I’ve had so much fun along the way, and I’ve managed to sneak in lots of travel with it too, and I have learnt so much which I am able to share through my coaching.
Describe for us this great cause that you are raising awareness/funds for.
Achilles International New Zealand provides New Zealanders with disabilities the opportunity to participate alongside able-bodied athletes in local mainstream running events as well as in the biggest and best marathon in the world – the New York Marathon. It is also a worldwide charity with chapters in over 65 counties. I’ve been involved with Achilles for the last two years and it’s been an incredible experience, we are all volunteers and Achilles is a registered charity. I work mostly with the athletes and guides going to the New York Marathon and my job is to get them to the start line, and across the finish line. The athletes have a wide range of disabilities including blind, vision impaired, MS, Cerebral Palsy, amputees, paraplegics, brain injuries, severe asthma – any challenge. Through my own injuries, marathon experiences and coaching knowledge I’m able to work with them so they can complete their marathon and are confident going in to it!
What is it that motivated you to advocate for this cause?
Because it involves a sport that I am totally passionate about – marathoning, and because I see how it changes the lives of the athletes and those around them when they complete that goal! This will be my second trip to New York and the second team that I have managed and coached. Last year we had 8 athletes who all completed the marathon, and this year we have another 8 athletes heading off in less then 6 weeks.
What have been the most challenging aspects of the journey towards raising awareness of your cause?
Not many people know about Achilles, how it originated, or even what we do. To be honest, I’d never heard of them before I got involved, so I can totally understand that. Being a part of the running community and with social media (mostly Facebook) and the big network of people who run, we’re able to get the word out there. I was also very keen to be able to use my 100th marathon as a focal point for fundraising (it costs $5000 to take each athlete to New York) and raising awareness as I’m very passionate and proud of the work I do with Achilles. I guess the most challenging aspect would be that we’re not a big organisation, and we’re all doing this as volunteers in our spare time, and yet there’s so much we’d like to do, but we can’t run before we can walk!
Nothing worth having or doing is easy. When things get tough, What motivates you to keep going and achieve your goal?
Knowing that I am making a difference in our athletes lives by helping them to achieve their goals, the good friends I’ve made through my involvement with this organisation, and also the fact that I am able to give back a little to a sport that I have got so much out of myself.
What is your approach to giving back to people in general?
I always believe that what you give out, you get back!
What are you doing for marketing wise to spread the word about your cause?
My husband now manages the Achilles website, and as an organisation we use Facebook a lot to get the word out. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by TV One News at the end of my 99th marathon at North Shore and it was talked about there how I was fundraising with my 100th marathon, so quite a few people nationwide would of heard about Achilles. There was also an article in the New Zealand Herald and in our local paper – the North Shore Times Advertiser about my 100th marathon and that I was doing it for Achilles and the Cancer Society.
Where can we find out more about your efforts and this cause?