Otumoetai College student Lili Crombie writes about an upcoming event in which a group of mothers and daughters create memories and keep fit while doing it.

When Mum told me she'd signed me up for a half marathon, I wasn't impressed: 21km is a long way. Things got a little brighter when she revealed it was in Sydney and that it would take us over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And then, when we thought about asking friends to go with us, there were significant improvements. So we booked our flights and accommodation and it was settled _ three mothers and three daughters were off to Sydney in September to run the race on Sunday, September 21.

The half marathon we are running is one of four courses that make up the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, an annual event that gives competitors the opportunity to run across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and take in Sydney's spectacular sights.

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The four events include the marathon, the half marathon, the bridge run (a 9km course), and a 3.5km family fun run. Last year, more than 34,000 people, over the four courses, crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge to finish at the Opera House and Conservatorium of Music.

The distance of this half marathon comes to a grand total of 21.0975km but, like my mother Pip Crombie said, "the 9km would have been plenty for me but I guess 12 more means I'll see that much more of Sydney!''

Between our three families there are 13 children, 10 of whom are boys. So, sometimes, we girls have to unite. We are all excited to be going and having the goal means we keep fit and so do the family dogs, Mac the border collie and Miley, the retriever poodle cross.

"Being a mother is a privilege and every day is Mother's Day. I think it's important to create memories and traditions with each of your children, and I think this trip will be one of those, perhaps both. Maybe we'll do it again in five years and the girls will join us from wherever they happen to be in the world. I'll definitely choose the shorter option then,'' says Pip.

I have no doubt the boys will be scheming to even things out however, there will be a cricket, rugby or mountain biking trip in the planning. Although the Sydney Half Marathon is the reason we're going, there are of course other incentives for a trip to the big city and a couple of hours of pain will be rewarded by a bit of shopping and sight-seeing, too.

Michelle Schuler, mother of Morgan, has running pedigree. She has run the South Island event, the Keppler Challenge, as well as the Abel Tasman and the Kawerau Half Marathon, so certainly has experience in long distance events and particularly likes off-road running.

"I'll enjoy the Sydney Half much more if I'm fit, so will try and put some effort in to build up for September. I also love Sydney and used to live there, so this is a great excuse to get there with Morgan and have some fun. It's great to have an event to make me actually get off the couch and train!''

The three daughters, Morgan, Tia Robinson and I play a variety of sports and having the Sydney Half Marathon to train for is benefiting us in our respective sports codes. I am going to Outward Bound to do a 21-day course for 16- to 18-year-olds, so training for the Sydney Half Marathon is contributing to my overall fitness for that.

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From left to right: Tia Robinson, Morgan Schuler and Lili Crombie
From left to right: Tia Robinson, Morgan Schuler and Lili Crombie

I used to run middle-distance events competitively, but after incurring an injury from over-training, I am now doing more of a range of fitness - running different distances, slotting in some yoga, as well as having hockey games and trainings after school.

Morgan thought the Sydney Half would be "a good challenge as I've never done a half marathon before. I'm not big on running, but a trip to Sydney with a bit of shopping thrown in is a huge plus, especially if it means I'll be getting fit for my other sports''.

"Training together makes the idea of going away more exciting. We plot which shops to check out and which restaurants to eat at. Because Tia, Morgan and I go to different schools, getting together to train is often difficult - between us we have a lot on so we do train with other friends when we can. We'll all actually see more of each other in Sydney than we do here and this was an important part of making the plan to go.

Despite being a Year 13 student, playing netball and hockey, and working in the weekends, Tia manages to find time to fit training runs in.

"I'm trying to exercise as many days a week as possible, which is currently around five. This includes running up and around the Mount, hockey and netball training, and also running around the Daisy Hardwick [Walkway].''

Tia's mother Christine also has some running prowess. She ran the Paris Marathon 20 years ago in four hours and five minutes, but she said, "since doing a half marathon in March I've done two runs!''

She has done the 12km City to Surf run in Tauranga, and the Sydney Half Marathon will not be her first time running with other mothers; in December last year she took part in the Iron Maori Triathlon in a team of mothers.

She is also "looking forward to going away with my daughter and the other mothers and daughters, it will be great bonding time''.

We are still working on a few other mother/daughter combinations to join us in September (you know who you are!) and have a few running events to tick off before we leave as well as fairly regular weekly training for each of us, at least one of which is at the Mount. Fingers crossed we remain injury free, and we're all looking forward to the decadent waterfront lunch that we're planning already. It will be worth it!

Otumoetai College teacher and running coach, Tessa Behrent, has experience in long distance running, trained and studied in the US on an Athletics Scholarship, and coaches the running team at the school.

She has advice on how to prepare for a half marathon, particularly for those who are first timers for long distance events.

"Training for a half marathon should start at least 12 weeks before the event. Slowly build up the intensity of your sessions. About two weeks before the event you should be aiming to complete a 18-21km run.

"Add a few hills into each run if possible and be sure to include one or two rest days into each week of training. If you are new to running, you may find the training hard to start with. However, you will very quickly start to see an improvement in your fitness.

"With one week to go before the competition, you should taper off your exercise so that you feel fresh and ready for the race. ``You will not tend to get much benefit from training in this period so relax and just do a few shorter runs of 5-8km. On race day ensure you wear comfortable clothing and in particular, wear socks with extra cushioning in the toe area.

"Be determined to enjoy the race and remember how great you will feel when you finish!''