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Melissa Moon is a long distance runner from Wellington. She has been the World Mountain Running champion twice, and has won many stair climbing races including the race up the Empire State Building in New York!
Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and background.
All my family live in Wellington, including my three brothers. I believe that growing up with my brothers made me very competitive. I lived in Hong Kong from the age of seven until I was eleven years old, which gave me the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures of the world.
I was always a good runner at primary and secondary school. Everyone has been gifted with a talent, it could be in sport, the arts, music, another school subject, or even being a caring and kind person. Some of us know what we want to do early in life. For me, I was in my early 20s when I decided to really put some hard work into my running and go to University as an older student to get an education.
Who are some of the people who influenced you?
Paula Radcliffe, a British distance runner, inspired me because of her 'never give up’ attitude. When it gets tough in running, and it hurts in your lungs and legs, you have to push through the pain.
I have been to many running events at schools and am proud of the students I see running as hard as they can. It doesn't matter if you are coming first or last, but if you are doing your very best, you are a 'winner' to me. When it gets tough in my running, I have a word I say to myself, 'Kia kaha', which means 'Be strong' – it keeps my running strong.
What are some of your major achievements to date?
World Mountain Running Champion (twice) – Italy 2001 and Alaska 2003.
World Stair Racing Champion – Kuala Lumpur 2002 (racing up 2,040 stairs) and the Empire State Building in New York in 2010.
Twenty-one New Zealand athletic running titles.
First-ever person to run around the world in the Blue Planet Run.
What do you like to do when you’re not running?
I like to go to the movies or the theatre.
What are your goals and dreams?
My goal is to work with people who have never done any physical activity before. I help them get fit and learn how to enjoy the benefits of running. My dreams are quite simple – to be healthy and happy.
What key things helped you succeed in running?
I have four Ds that help me succeed:
Direction (You need a goal.)
Desire (It has to come from your heart, and you really want to do it.)
Dedication (You need to train hard.)
Determination. (You never give up when the going gets tough.)
Describe a typical training day.
When I was training really hard, a typical week’s training was:
Tuesday:5 kilometres at a fast pace
Saturday:16 kilometres or a local race
What kind of training did you do to improve?
I didn't miss a day of running. On some days, I really didn't feel like training, but that’s when I had to remember my goal, and know that if I did the training, the racing would be easier.
What were some of the major challenges you have faced and overcome?
Getting over the disappointing races. I’ve been running for fifteen years now, and there are a great deal more disappointments than good performances. If you want to succeed, you need to learn from those disappointing races. Look upon them as very positive because they make you a stronger person.
What food do you eat when you are training and before an event?
The night before I train, I love to eat potatoes because they give me energy. On the day of a race, I drink lots of water, eat a banana, and some cereal that does not have a lot of sugar, as I don't want to upset my stomach.
What are your goals in the short term and long term?
At this stage in my career, my goals are to enjoy my running and to help people get involved in exercise, when they have not participated before.