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Vanessa Orr

Everyday Champion – running the New York Marathon


What can I say… I’ve never been an athlete but always liked sports (the ones I wasn’t too uncoordinated to play!). I was lucky enough to have the most awesome parents who encouraged me to just do my best in whatever I decided to put my mind to. I tried out all different sports, mostly swimming and netball as a child. I gave rugby a go as an exchange student in Canada (mainly because I thought it was the Australian thing to do) and only took up running in my 30s.

Away from my weekend sporting endeavours I work in a corporate environment in an industry where it’s becoming increasingly evident the impact that health and wellbeing have on an individual’s quality of life.

I’d like to think that through sharing my experiences in training for this marathon and with the help of my fantastic support crew I can inspire others to realise that anything is possible.

Athlete Profile

Nickname: Ness
Age: 39
Hometown: Sydney
Sports: Swimming, netball, rugby
Favourite Food: Pancakes with yoghurt & berries although it’s such a hard choice… I love it all! I make batches of muffins every weekend and keep them in the freezer for a quick healthy snack.

Career Highlights

  • My first fun run.. the City2Surf – this was the moment I discovered I could finish a run & I was proud of what I achieved.
  • Completing a half marathon and raising money for cancer research in the process.. making a difference in more than one way.
  • Recently becoming an accredited Run Leader which I hope to be able to use to inspire others.

Upcoming Events:

  • 2017 New York Marathon





We recently caught up with Ness to ask her a few questions….

What made you sign up for the New York Marathon?

My first taste of running was the City to Surf in 2011. I just loved the sense of achievement, the feeling of freedom and the endorphin rush after completing a run. Even so, my running has been pretty on and off over the years and whilst I’ve managed to complete a couple of half marathons (with questionable training) the thought of running a full marathon has always been too much for me.

This was until I saw something on facebook about the ballot for the New York Marathon. Running a marathon was something I thought I should do before I turned 40 and I thought if I’m going to do one, I may as well make it a good one.

So, I put my name down in the ballot, not thinking too much about it.

The first I realised my name had been selected was when I saw the debit for the entry fee on my credit card. Later I received the email notification saying I had been selected. My first reaction was “Oh shit”. I was in shock.

After the shock had worn off, I realised that I didn’t know what I was in for and starting texting out for help.

It had all started to become very real.

What does your training look like?

The hardest thing I had found when training for anything was my mind as I had a tendency to pull back when sessions became too hard.

So this was as much about training the mind as it was about running a marathon.

A good friend of mine, Jason Cronshaw from V&B Athletic offered to help with my training program. My training program has revolved around some really important areas that I never would have thought about:

  • Strength training, not just running training
  • Improving my running technique
  • Energy preservation and making sure that everything I am doing in the race is as efficient as possible
  • Preparation for all race conditions
  • How to get past the mental barriers and pushing through them in training so I can do the same in the race

My first month of training has been harder than I could even imagine. And the first session was the hardest by far.

A combination of interval running over a range of 200 metre and 400 metre distances. I felt like vomiting.

Through the hard times though I just tried to focus on the basics. I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, found a target ahead and just kept telling myself to keep going. It’s not easy but I feel this is probably the most important lesson from training – teaching your mind to realise just how much your body can do.

One month in, I feel I’m becoming stronger and am pushing through what I didn’t think was possible before.

It helps to have a good support crew around as well.

What would you say to other everyday champions who are looking at pushing themselves?

Just do it! Even in the first month of training I really feel I’ve achieved so much. Plus I believe the training not only benefits my running but it carries on to other aspects of my life as well. Reaching out and putting yourself in a position to stretch yourself and achieve your goals really has bigger benefits than getting better at your chosen sport… it really can change your perspective. And what have you got to lose? There are no negatives to having a go and at the very least it’s about a healthy lifestyle. I’ll see you out there 😉