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20 August 2020 • Community

Ingrid nears 300 not out

Indefatigable Ingrid Frost is set to complete her record-breaking 300th marathon in Rotorua next month. Steve Landells chats to the effervescent grandmother about her extraordinary running journey and hopes for the milestone race.

It was 20 years ago when the former partner of Ingrid Frost challenged her to run the Auckland Marathon with him.

While he withdrew from the race citing a football-related knee injury, she went ahead anyway and completed her marathon debut in a little over four hours.

So taken with the buzz, the sense of achievement and camaraderie of the experience, Ingrid has never stopped running and on 26 September is set to rack up an extraordinary 300th marathon – a record feat for a Kiwi woman.

“It will be an emotional moment for me,” says the 54-year-old grandmother.

“To be honest, I just want to be a good role model. If someone reads of my achievement and it helps inspire even one person to run, I will be happy.”

Ingrid had flirted with cross country running and track as a teenager but the south Aucklander says that quickly fell by the wayside as she became more interested in “boys and parties”.

It was only after becoming a mum to son Michael, now aged 32, and being challenged to attempt her first marathon did the running bug bite.

Motivated to run faster, she finished her second marathon in Hamilton in a sizeable personal best of 3:37 and over time the marathon-running addiction grew.

Joining the Auckland YMCA Marathon Club and keen to experience more races, she quickly racked up the marathons. However, it was only after being introduced to a gentleman who was part of the 100 Marathon Club NZ did milestone setting become an incentive.

“We got talking and he inspired me, so I set myself a little goal of running 40 marathons before I was 40,” she explains.

“Once I ticked that box he said to me, ‘why don’t you come and run Auckland for your 50th?’ He kept dangling these little carrots in front of me.”

Successfully cracking the 100-marathon mark in 2009 at the Auckland Marathon, some quizzed Ingrid whether she planned to slow down, but that was never an option for the marathon maestro.

“I think by that point, it was just ingrained in me,” says Ingrid, who ran her quickest marathon of 3:15 in 2010.

“The way I look at it is that marathon running is a good lifestyle. It is certainly not a bad one!”

Running an average of 15 marathons a year, Ingrid, who weighs in at a light 58kg, has largely avoided injuries and in 2015 completed 200 marathons at the Mountain to Surf event in Taranaki.

Having completed most marathons in New Zealand, she has also tasted overseas events in Australia and New Caledonia plus ‘bucket list’ marathons in New York and London but her favourite was the Big Five Marathon in South Africa.

“It was held at a lion and rhino sanctuary with no cages,” she says. “We ran with the wild animals. It was amazing.”

Running six or seven times a week, Ingrid, who works as a Materials Management Clerk at Counties Manukau Hospital, has quickly hurtled towards the 300-marathon mark. In 2017, she completed eight marathons in eight days in Australia and earlier this year completed a further three marathons to reach 299.

Her intention was to fulfil the landmark achievement at the 2020 Rotorua Marathon in May. However, the global pandemic forced the postponement of the race until September, so she has been forced to be patient.

This year will be Ingrid’s 20th successive Rotorua Marathon but the question is: why has she specifically targeted the ‘Lap of the Lake’ race to achieve her milestone moment?

“We use it as our club championships and having many club members here when I achieve the milestone is really important to me,” she says.

“The course is a tough track but has so much history. The race director Murray (Fleming) and his team are always so obliging and it is great weekend away as well. I would encourage anyone to run the event because the camaraderie is brilliant.”

Toasting the momentous achievement with a sub-four-hour time would be icing on the cake for the Papatoetoe-based athlete. But whatever happens she in indebted to marathon running for enriching her life immeasurably.

“It has given me a sense of personal achievement but also freedom,” she explains.

“After I parted company with my former partner it was marathons that kept me from going down a big, black, dark hole. It kept me focused and gave a positive outlet for my frustrations and anger.”

But how many more marathons does Ingrid believes she can go on and complete in the future?

“I’m just taking one race at a time,” she explains.

“I now have another entity in my life after my granddaughter was born two years ago. If I had to prioritise, I’d put aside my running at the drop of a hat to assist with her. Having said that, I will try to go on for as long as my body will allow.”

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