Lisa Tamati featured in a book about the history runners.

By Marena Mane

A book on New Zealand runners would hardly be complete without the mention of veteran ultra-distance runner, Lisa Tamati, who has 25 years of experience competing in the world’s toughest endurance events and leading and participating in expeditions.

Lisa Tamati has since retired, but she keeps herself in shape with CrossFit training and short-distance marathons. She also coaches over 700 athletes worldwide, including other ultra-marathon runners.

She features in both volumes of Dreydon Sobanja's book series, The Kiwi Runners Family Tree, the second volume will be published next month.

The book tells the stories of athletes and coaches and their achievements on the international running stage. 

Tamati pays tribute to the women who paved the way for female runners like herself and had a significant impact on her life, such as Sandy Barwick, Ellison Road, Lorraine Moller, and Kathrine Switzer, as well as legendary coach Arthur Lydiard, an excellent running instructor.

“In the past, I think women were really sidelined a little bit, in the decades of the 60s and 70s and even the 80s, and thank goodness that's really changed and Dreydons book, The Kiwi Runner Family Tree really shows that. The second book, half of it is women.”

Up and coming future champion athlete: Sarah Lansbury

Sarah Landsbury also features in the book and Tamati says "it's so cool" that she is aware of her role model status already. "Even as a teenager and for young Maori women especially and she's very much into her Maoritanga and her understanding [of] the roles and responsibilities she has there. So I see a great future for that young lady.”

Losing her role model

Tamati saiys losing her father had a significant impact on her and her siblings, and they continue to attempt to impress him even though he is no longer with them.

“He taught us discipline, he was tough. He was a hard man to please. He was old school, and that was a fantastic way to grow up because he taught us resilience, he taught us, it's okay to fail as long as we're pushing the boundaries of what we're capable of.

“He's left a huge legacy behind in the art world and also in the sporting world I'd say."

Bringing my mum back to full health

Tamati says that the release of her own book, Relentless was a big journey and significant to her as it was sharing her empowering journey of bringing her mother back to full health after suffering massive brain damage through an aneurysm and a stroke.

“Relentless, I’m very very proud of that book. I'm proud of my mum and her determination, she's 79 years old now, and I treat her like an athlete. Every day she trains like an athlete, we're going for our Olympics, and that's the legacy of being an athlete, learning all that discipline and all that sort of stuff, it comes to help you when you're in a hard situation in life.”