Thousands of happy, healthy walkers and runners will cross the finish line at the Blue Nose International Marathon Sunday.

Sharon Dolliver will fit right in.

As unlikely as it seemed more than three years ago — before the Dartmouth mother of eight changed her life by losing 165 pounds through diet and exercise — Dolliver has signed up to walk/run the 42.2-kilometre full marathon.


“A couple of years ago, even in my wildest dreams, to be able to run a marathon? Never,” she says. “Never, never.”

Never say never.

The turnaround started for Dolliver when the calendar flipped to 2006.

The 46-year-old was balancing a job with the demands of parenting eight children — four foster and four biological — but realized she was neglecting her health.

It took her 19 months to go from 305 to 140 pounds. She has now been at her goal weight for 22 months.

“Finally, one day, I said, 'you know what? If I can (work and be a parent) and that’s difficult, then I need to take care of me, even though that’s difficult,'” she recalls.

Dolliver quotes a statistic that says 90 per cent of people who lose weight gain it back. She took up walking last year with 17-year-old daughter Shyanne to maintain her weight loss.

Sharon says she gained inspiration from Shyanne, a figure skater with a gold medal at the Special Olympics. Mother and daughter will participate in the Blue Nose together, although 5-foot-7 Shyanne might leave Sharon behind.

“We want each other to go for it,” Shyanne says.

Crossing the finish line won’t mark the end for Sharon, but another milestone that makes her story a success.

“When you’re standing at the bottom of that mountain looking up, you feel there’s no way you’ll be able to get to the top,” she says.

“Yet here we stand. We feel like we’re at the top of the mountain and we feel like we’re conquering it.”

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