Di Eagle after completing her 14th Rotorua Marathon last year. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

BECKIE WILSON
beckie.wilson@age.co.nz
Di Eagle never imagined, nor even considered, completing one marathon, let alone 15.
But now she is only a few weeks out from what will be her last 42km physical and mental test.
Mrs Eagle is gearing up for her 15th consecutive and final walking marathon at the Rotorua Marathon on May 5.
Through back pain, osteoarthritis and sciatica, Mrs Eagle hasn’t let anything stop her.
“I’ve always thought if you don’t use it you lose it,” she said.
The Eketahuna Community Board member’s marathon journey began when she was 39, when her children were in their intermediate years.
Determined to be a model for her children she wanted to show them that exercise was important for good health.
At the time, she considered herself as “mummy-size” and overweight, which became one of her main motivations.
It was a natural progression for her to dive into marathon training as her husband, Mark, had already completed a couple of marathons.
While supporting him at races, she saw women walking the track.
“I thought, ‘I could do that’,” she said.
So in 2004 she hit the ground walking in her first marathon, completing it in five hours and 35 minutes – “I was pleased with that”.
During the training ahead of her first marathon, Mrs Eagle lost 24kg.
“It got me off my butt, it got me exercising.
“I was teaching at the time at Tararua College, I’d get up and do five kilometres in the morning and at night.”
While at last year’s marathon she clocked in her slowest time yet of six hours and 40 minutes, it did not stop her from committing to one more year.
Her goal for this year is to finish in under seven hours, she said.
One of the unique features of the Rotorua Marathon is the Survivors Club, which recognises entrants who have completed 15 or more marathons.
Mrs Eagle said that ever since her third marathon entering the club was her ultimate goal.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing over the past 14 events.
“Three years ago I developed back pain, osteoarthritis and sciatica, so I’ve been battling with that.
“I was always determined to walk through the pain.”