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Utah mother of 8 in running for Runner’s World magazine cover

Published: Thursday, July 31 2014 4:45 p.m. MDT

Shirlee Webb, 63, loves to run. She started running 30 years ago and it changed her life. Back then she said she weighed 235 pounds and battled depression after giving birth to her first child. Running has changed her life.

Alec Cabrero, Deseret News

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HIGHLAND — A mother of eight has used running to help her battle depression and weight. Now her story could lead to the cover of Runner’s World magazine.

Shirlee Webb, 63, loves to get outside on streets, side trails and even in the rain.

“It’s been my sanity, I would say,” Webb said.

She never thought she would enjoy running until a friend asked her to go jogging 30 years ago.

“At that time I weighed 235 pounds. I just had my fifth baby in seven years,” she said. “I laughed. I said, ‘Are you kidding? You really want me to go running?’"

But after Webb started one foot slowly in front of the other, something in her changed, and her husband noticed right away.

“Now, you don’t want to make me cry, but I will tell you that she’s a very inspirational woman,” Tom Webb said.

After she had her first child, Shirlee Webb became severely depressed.

“I was hospitalized for three months, and I even went through shock treatments,” she said.

But she worked her way through it. And when she discovered running, she left depression in the dust.

“I found that running … took away those feelings,” Shirlee Webb said.

She runs at least one half marathon a month. She qualified for the Boston Marathon three times since turning 60.

Now Shirlee Webb is sharing her story. Her family has entered her into a contest to be on the cover of Runner’s World, which will feature a runner with an inspirational story.

“This whole contest, people have been rallying behind her, showing support. And I think it’s really been a big boost to her,” son Chris Webb said.

Tom Webb said the support has been “marvelous,” and she has more than 1,800 votes.

To read more about Shirlee Webb and vote for her, visit the magazine's cover contest page at covercontest.runnersworld.com. People can vote once a day until Aug. 26.

Shirlee Webb said she would like to win, almost as much as she likes passing younger runners during her marathons. But for her, the possible magazine cover isn't the most important part of her running. It's that feeling she gets when she runs, that no matter what life difficulties come her way, she can overcome them, one step at a time.

“I just fell in love with it," she said. "I’ve never looked back since then.”

Email: acabrero@deseretnews.com

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