Inspiration from Sharn


It’s only two weeks until the Run Melbourne Half Marathon.  This will be 2014 half marathon number two of five happy half marathons for the year.  One of the five clashes with Run Melbourne so currently after Run Melbourne there is the Ross Half Marathon and the Point to Pinnacle.  I’ll make up the fifth one somehow, it might not be an event but it will be the distance.

In January 2015 Louise, Pauly and I are set to attempt our first full Marathon and run 42.2kms at the Cadbury Marathon.


When it comes to half marathons they are still a challenge, one that I respect greatly but with good preparation, training, nutrition, hydration, rest and the all-important mental attitude I know I can do this distance.  It’s all about running all the way and finishing – I will try for a good time but if I don’t get it, just to be there running this distance is so amazingly awesome!

But the marathon leaves me with a sense of nerves.  The butterflies are doing quickstep in my stomach.  My mind feels a bit dizzy and well – marathons are a long way!  They take a lot of time to prepare for.  I’ve read many posts by fellow bloggers and seen lovely running friends locally put soul, mind and heart into being as ready as they can be to attempt this distance.

From the Shining4Sharn facebook page
From the Shining4Sharn facebook page

A few Sunday nights ago Louise sent me a text to ask if I was watching a program called Sunday Night – she said to quickly put it on if I wasn’t.  There was a report on Sharn McNeill and Craig Gruber who recently defied all odds and completed the Cairns Ironman.  Pauly and I were in Port Douglas at the time, just north of Cairns, but we didn’t see this amazing pair and their support crew ride past us on the bike leg, we watched for quite a while, but in the afternoon we went for a run and I’m thinking they must’ve ridden by then.

This image is from the Shining4Sharn facebook page - a few simple words that sum up her powerful attitude
This image is from the Shining4Sharn facebook page – a few simple words that sum up her powerful attitude

This brave young woman had a dream to finish the full Ironman (that’s a 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bike ride and finally a full marathon of 42.2kms).  Why is she brave?  Sharn has an aggressive form of Motor Neuron Disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  Before her diagnosis she had been active in triathlon events and had finished a Half Ironman.  Her dream was to finish a full Ironman.

Her amazing friend Craig made this dream come true.  Together they trained and encouraged each other.  Craig swam and pulled Sharn on a kayak, he rode a bike with a special recumbent bike attached and together they peddled, Sharn as much as she could.  He then assisted her by pushing her wheelchair for the run.


When Louise sent me the text she said you’ll need tissues.  I sure did.  Total inspiration.  Despite being out in the ocean unable to swim, Sharn had complete trust in Craig.  After the swim they got to the bike ride and had several punctures and Craig’s GPS failed so it was hard to track where they were – uncharacteristically for Cairns it had been pouring with rain and the device got waterlogged.  They were looking like they just weren’t going to make the time cutoffs for each leg.

But they did. 


They encouraged each other and pushed through the difficulties, exhaustion and dreadful weather conditions.

I remember seeing Sharn on the Sunday Night story while they were riding, her teeth were chattering with cold but all she could say to her friend Craig were words of encouragement and to not stop.  She was thinking of him despite her obvious discomfort.


Craig assisted Sharn to run the last 100m over the finish line.  She and Craig crossed the finish line and Sharn’s dream of becoming an Ironman came true.

Along with their four friends who supported them, they all completed the Cairns Ironman.  Totally amazing.  There were lots of supporters known as the Sharni Army who had been out for hours and hours and hours, many in pink wigs, cheering and supporting Sharn, Craig and team in this epic Ironman attempt.


After the story Louise sent me a text If Sharn can do that we can run a marathon.

Sharn has so inspired me to keep the positive thinking going.  Each time I start to doubt if I can run a marathon I think of her.  I don’t know if I will be able to, but I shall put on my bestest most positive attitude and give it my very best shot.  Pauly, Louise and I – together we are going to have a go.

We’ll be at the starting line on Sunday 11 January 2015 to run those 42.2kms helped along by the inspiration of two amazing people, Sharn and Craig.

If you are struggling with a new distance no matter how far, draw on some inspiration from Sharn.  There are details on the facebook page of how to donate to research into conquering MND.

this is why we are going to be at the start line of a marathon - we are blessed that we can run so we WILL!
This is why we are going to be at the start line of a marathon – we are blessed that we can run so we WILL!

You can read more about Sharn and Craig on the Ironman website:

(I have shamelessly borrowed a number of image about Sharn and Craig – I hope they don’t mind.)

Happy running 🙂

distance runner

21 thoughts on “Inspiration from Sharn

    1. That sounds like the best mantra of all Sue. I think I will go with that one too. It was simply inspirational to watch the story and to see the photos AND Sharn is always smiling (and she has such a pretty smile too).

  1. That’s such an inspirational story 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I’m really enjoying how you are challenging yourself this year! And of course, I love your never-ending enthusiasm!

    1. Thanks Cynthia 🙂 I was so touched by Sharn’s story. She is up against so much and yet she is determined to be as positive as possible. I’m so lucky to have all my blogging and running friends spurring me on with all these challenges x

  2. Oh, what a great story. Though I can imagine the need for all those tissues. That woman is obviously much loved. They are two fantastic people.

  3. I also watched that wonderful story and was very moved by the inspirational Sharn. To have a friend like Craig who helped her make her dream of doing a ironman come true. What an amazing friend to have. When we are having a bad day we should just think of Sharn and her outlook on life and her beautiful smile. Thank you for sharing this with your blogging family. xx

    1. Thanks Deb 🙂 it was my pleasure to recount their story – it’s such a big story it was hard to do it justice. I’m so blown away by these inspirational people. Glad you got to see the story too xxx

  4. I think my clunky internet coverage is causing my comments not to post, so sorry if I seem to have left you out for the last while!

    Thank you for posting this story of a brave and loving couple. I will stop whining NOW!

    1. Dear Red Hen, I never feel left out by you – I went and had a look in my comments and found you in spam! Spam! You are so not spam you are the bestest quality Ham – or Chicken maybe hehe. I can see that you are having a few wordpress issues, but please solider on with them because even if takes a little while for your comments to come through they are always something very awesome and something that encourages greatly xxx I think your internet is worse that ours in Tasmania!

  5. The mind is a powerful tool yes it can be detrimental as well especially when the body is fine but always remember just by lifting one foot in front of the other you’re defying all odds. Sharny’s Mantra was determination and self belief she is an example of how to defy the mind no matter what…. Truly inspirational 🙂

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