Craig Vercoe and Sharon McDonald at the start on Sunday’s Nelson Half Marathon walk. Photo: Andrew Board.

Sharon finishes her race


A year ago Craig Vercoe met Sharon McDonald at the Nelson Half Marathon in rather dire circumstances.

Sharon had just suffered a massive heart attack minutes into the 21.1km walk race as Craig was walking towards Saxton Athletics track for the start of the half marathon run.

He performed CPR that would save her life.

Twelve months on Craig and Sharon met again at the Nelson Half, this time to compete in it side-by-side.

“We ran into each other in the street one day and I asked how she was and she mentioned that she was walking again and hoping to do the Nelson Half and it came up in conversation that we should do it together,” says Craig.

For Sharon the whole week leading up to the race was emotional.

“I was nervous but after what happened last year I was determined to get fit. I did a lot more training but I still felt a bit worried before the race, hoping I finished this time.”

They did, in three hours, one minute and 23 seconds, earning them each a first place in their respective age group.

Craig says his focus was making sure Sharon enjoyed the day.

“I was just happy to be out there and to see her enjoy it. It was a beautiful day and it was nice to be with her doing what she enjoys.”

“Early on there were a few jokes about the year before, we tried to keep it light hearted. But the main focus was to just enjoy it.”

After the race Sharon presented Craig with a plaque featuring a photo and a verse she wrote, highlighting her gratitude.

Craig says it was “a very nice gesture” but he feels that anyone would have done the same in a similar situation.

“I hope anyone else would do the same, it’s just what you do.”

A record 675 runners and walkers took part in one of the four challenges on offer at the festival of running with Nelson College teacher Phil Costley winning the feature half marathon in a time of 1 hour, 13 mins, 35 seconds.

For full results, see