Fernleigh 15 from Adamstown to Belmont on Sunday

ENDURANCE: Vlad Shatrov goes back-to-back at the Fernleigh 15 in 2016. I won’t be anywhere near him on Sunday. ABOUT a year ago a few mates of mine found an old photograph of me.

Taken at sunset on Waikiki Beach sometime in 2011, the picture shows me, mid-stride, emerging from the water in a pair of red shorts.

“No joke, that is the best you’ve ever looked,” my mate told me immediately after he pressed the button.

And he was right.

I’d spotted him on the sand a second before he snapped the picture, sucked in my gut and puffed out my chest, while pretending it was all completely natural.

Then, after showing me at my peak physical health, my mates pulled up a more recent photograph.

I’m asleep in the back seat of a car on the way back from the airport after a trip to Bali.

I have drool on my face, I’m unshaven and my hair is revealing what I’ve been trying to hide for years; I’m going bald.

But the most striking thing about the picture, and the most embarrassing thing for me, is my gut.

The seat belt is grasping my stomach underneath and across the top, accentuating my shame and outlining the exact dimensions of my belly as if it were an anatomical diagram.

It was me at my absolute worst.

After showing me these two pics my mates bet me that I couldn’t return my body to its Hawaii heyday.

I was 102 kilograms and I’d need to get down to 82kg.

They gave me a generous 12 months to do it and three of my mates, let’s call them Dylan, Mitch and Dave*, even put some money down.

$2100 in total.

My weight loss missionstarted slowly.

Very slowly; my first run (walk)was a 50-plus minute 5 kilometre ParkRun.

Then running became more enjoyable, I started taking a salad every day for lunch and I cut out beer.

With the help of another mate, let’s call him Clayton*, I shaved about half an hour off my 5km time.

I started to love running, I was addicted to it and I quickly lost weight and felt great.

I’m not telling you this story because I’m something special.

After all, I’m just doing what I should have been doing for years and there are many more people with far more inspirational weight loss stories.

I’m telling you because I’m hoping it might encourage you, if you’re in the same situation I was in 12 months ago, to get out and go for a run.

You won’t regret it.

This weekend I’m competing in my first proper run –The Fernleigh 15 –and I literally can’t wait.

Next month, I’ll runthe Central Coast Half Marathon, and after that a marathon.

Because the thing I’ve learned about running is, once you start you can’t stop.

And if you haven’t registered for the Fernleigh 15, it’s not too late.

*Yes, that is their real names.