Bunbury runner Keith Yardley shares tips for a happy, healthy life

Infectious positivity: Keith Yardley says when people question why he was so happy at work at the mornings, he credits it to running. Picture: Pip Waller
Infectious positivity: Keith Yardley says when people question why he was so happy at work at the mornings, he credits it to running. Picture: Pip Waller

KEITH 'Yards' Yardley's running shoes aren't unknown to the Bunbury running community.

As the former president of the Runners Club, Yardley has been involved with the sport for over 47 years.

Sitting down with the Mail to talk his running origins, Yardley pinpointed the exact moment his "attitude towards life" changed forever.

"I can put the success in my sporting career down to one person - Angus Strauss who was my year seven, primary school headmaster," Yardley said.

"He always used to say 'Keith, tuck in your shirt, pull your socks up, look like the part and fake it until you make it'.

"That left a huge impression on me."

Shortly after the advice, Yardley took on his first cross country event at Bridgetown High School at just 11 years old, taking out second place and then first the following two years.

People ask me why I'm so bloody happy and I say 'well, I've just run 10 kilometres, so why would I be unhappy?'

Keith Yardley

From there, the rest is history, with Yardley competing in events throughout Australia and abroad.

"I've run in the Bridgetown, Blackwood Marathon Relay since 1979, only missing the 2020 event when it was cancelled due to COVID," Yardley said.

"I've been in 40 of the Bunbury Fun Runs, winning it 13 times, six of those in a row.

"I've come fifth and sixth in the City to Surf run in Perth and also represented the state in the national 15-kilometre event in Canberra in 1990."

In his personal life, Yardley is married to his high school sweetheart, Tracie, who he has two children with, Keith and Melissa.

Yardley said of his two children weren't avid runners like himself.

"I never pushed them to run because I didn't want people to put the stigma on them of 'oh, you must be as good as your dad'," he said.

1992 Perth Marathon

1992 Perth Marathon

"Keith was always more of a sprinter and a thrower because he's a lot bigger than me in terms of strength, and Melissa is right into the musical, art side with dancing.

"But we always did things as a family - Tracie and I used to get the kids up early, pack up the car and go to Perth for runs."

Much of the Bunbury community will also recall Yardley as the president of the Bunbury Runners Club from 2017 to 2019.

Having been associated with the club since the 1980s, both Keith and Tracie are still involved with the club today.

"It's funny when I run with people from the club today because sometimes they say 'wow, you're 59 and you're keeping up with us'", Yardley laughed.

Keith has been featured in the paper many times before. Picture: Supplied

Keith has been featured in the paper many times before. Picture: Supplied

"I just put my foot down and pick the speed up and a lot of people are quite astounded by what I can achieve, which is running 21 kilometres in 69 minutes."

Reflecting on his running career, Yardley said running had had huge mental and physical benefits in his life.

"I've always had a bounce in life to the point where people would ask me why I'm so bloody happy.

"And I'd say 'well, I've been up since 4am to run 10 kilometres, so what do you want me to be, unhappy?'

Bunbury Mail featuring Yardley in 1999. Picture: Supplied

Bunbury Mail featuring Yardley in 1999. Picture: Supplied

"If I was ever annoyed with something at work, I've just run 15 kilometres and by the time I got home from work all the annoyance would be out of my system.

"It doesn't matter what sport it is, you just have to have some sort of outlet or hobby and you've got to treat it like a therapy session."

For those looking to take on a new sport, Yardley offered the following challenge.

"What I always say to people is that it takes 21 days to break a habit and 21 days to pick up a habit - so you try it."