There, between the trees, on the quiet mountain trails of our serene North Shore, the lives of a small group of runners began to unfold, weaving each other infinitely closer, our paths merging together with each new day. The group was none too obscure, just a handful of chatty wives with a passion for fitness so…I was likely the first to rock our tight-lipped clan of type ‘A’ women with an unexpected trip to rehab. A surprise for all of them, I’m sure, yet certainly not for me. Upon my return I could see their dis – ease at what to say and how to respond and so they did what we often do and pretend that nothing had happened. But as the years passed and the running continued, the stories of hidden addictions, betrayals, sadness over the powerlessness of others behaviours and the joys of motherhood and material success began to spin out of the mouths of my lovely group of running partners. Slowly, some of our families experienced crises and the cracks turned into crevices as the challenges of life tested many of our foundations.

Our group was left shattered when one of the most athletic of the girls was diagnosed and passed away with pancreatic cancer in the span of about 3 months. “Susie,” with the rose coloured glasses, was a gigantic and unfathomable loss that still resounds with aching sadness and inexplicable confusion. There is a bench that sits in memory of this beautiful woman who lived and breathed our amazing North Shore trails, I go there sometimes and shed a tear and I wonder if the tears are about the fact that she left too soon or that her spirit is free, sprinkling joy somewhere we don’t see. Every year the Kneeknacker runs by this bench, a run that Susie so loved. Susie would end her gruelling 50km run with lip gloss tucked in her shorts because, in her words, “you gotta look good when you cross the finish line.” This is for you Susie, no longer here in physical but so very present in spirit. We love you and we miss you.

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