Anna Bay runner Anne Crawford-Nutte to reach 80 marathons at Great Ocean Road Running Festival

Anne Crawford-Nutte is a determined woman.

Or, in her words, "stubborn".

Tell her she cannot do something and she will prove you wrong.

When she was told by a doctor after a serious car crash in 1984 that she would never walk again the Anna Bay resident fired back: "I'll show you".

Eighteen months later she marched back into the hospital and showed the same doctor the medal she had recieved for finishing a 32-kilometre marathon.

"It was the most ridiculous thing I could think of, to complete a marathon and show them they were wrong," Ms Crawford-Nutte said.

"I've always been very stubborn. I always hated anyone telling me I can't do something. The doctor telling me I'd never walk again made me more determined than ever.

"I wanted to do it [marathon] within the year but it took me 18 months."

Ms Crawford-Nutte, originally from Johannesburg in South Africa, began running in 1983.

Following her divorce, she had been living in a share house with runners. After five weeks of them banging on her door to join them on an early morning run, she gave in.

The same year she completed her first marathon.

The year after, however, Ms Crawford-Nutte's life as she knew it came to a screeching halt when she fell asleep behind the wheel of her car and crashed into a electricity pole.

The crash left her unable to move in a Johannesburg hospital, facing a life living in a wheelchair.

But, determined to get back on her feet, she threw herself into rehabilitation and recovery and within a month she left the hospital on crutches. Once home, she immediately began training for a marathon.

She would walk up and down her street, crutches under her arms, to gain more mobility.

Her first marathon after the crash was the Springs Striders 32km. Following that, she completed in the Sasol Marathon.

A picture frame in Anne Crawford-Nutte's 'running room' showing her first Comrades Marathon. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

A picture frame in Anne Crawford-Nutte's 'running room' showing her first Comrades Marathon. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

In 1986, two years after the crash, Ms Crawford-Nutte undertook her greatest challenge yet – the Comrades Marathon.

A runner must complete the 90km marathon, double the length of a standard marathon distance, in 11 hours for it to count.

"Finishing that marathon was a huge moment for me," Ms Crawford-Nutte said. "It was the biggest achievement in my life, proving everyone wrong."

She would go on to complete nine more Comrades Marathons.

Having emigrated to Australia in 1995, Ms Crawford-Nutte returned to South Africa to complete seven of her 10 Comrades Marathons.

In total, Ms Crawford-Nutte has completed 79 marathons.

Three months after completing her 10th Comrades in 2008, Ms Crawford-Nutte was in a spin class at the gym when her heart rate spiked to 255 bpm and stayed there.

She was admitted to a cardiac unit of a hospital where she was told she had a problem with her heart and that her running days were over.

Ms Crawford-Nutte took the doctor’s advice and gave up running, throwing herself into work. But last year she said "bugger it" and began running again.

"I put 20kg on and was so unhappy because I wasn't running," she said.

"When I run, everything seems right with the world. I leave all my worries and thoughts behind me and rejoice in the fact that I can put one foot in front of the other and go the distance, no matter how slow I go.

"I was told I’d never walk again, so I appreciate every step. I love the people you get to chat to along the way, I love the friendly and selfless volunteers and of course I love the personal challenge. Running is my escape and soothes my soul."

Anne Crawford-Nutte holding medals she received when she completed the Great Ocean Road Running Festival full marathon in 2007 and 2008. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Anne Crawford-Nutte holding medals she received when she completed the Great Ocean Road Running Festival full marathon in 2007 and 2008. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Ms Crawford-Nutte has set herself a goal – 100 marathons in her lifetime. It is a goal that her cardiologist is completely behind.

Ms Crawford-Nutte picked the Great Ocean Road Running Festival to complete her 80th marathon. 

"I ran my first Great Ocean Road marathon in 2007 and again in 2008 in the build-up to my 10th Comrades," she said.

"My goal is 100 marathons in my lifetime. I figured at 62 I better get on with it and chose my favourite, most picturesque marathon to be my 80th." 

After a nine year hiatus from training, Ms Crawford-Nutte began preparing for the Great Ocean Road marathon last year.

However, she could not get her running pace up enough to make the 6 hour and 30 minute full marathon cut-off and decided instead to enter into the half marathon.

"I choose to run in this event as it is the most picturesque and well-run event in Australia," she said.

"It reminds me of the Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa, which also hugs the coastline. I absolutely love running next to the sea as it inspires, relaxes and distracts me.

"Marathons are not about speed. You do need to make times, but it's all about the mind. You need mental toughness to complete marathons."

Great Ocean Road Running Festival. Picture: Supplied

Great Ocean Road Running Festival. Picture: Supplied

The 14th edition of the Great Ocean Road Running Festival will take place on May 19 and 20. The course stretches from Lorne to Apollo Bay.

More than 7000 participants are expected to run or walk one of the seven event distances ranging from the 1.5km Kids’ Gallop to the 60km Ultra Marathon.

Ms Crawford-Nutte said following the Great Ocean Road marathon she would aim to complete the Gold Coast Marathon (June 2018), Sydney Running Festival (September 2018) and Canberra Marathon (April 2019).

And an 11th Comrades Marathon is not out of the question.

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