Q. What is your motivation for running the length of New Zealand?
A. Originally I just wanted to go home and have a good look around New Zealand and I
thought running the length of New Zealand would be a cool thing to do. Then my cousin said
“If you’re going to do it you should do it for charity”. I’d never thought of doing it for charity
- I’d given money before but didn’t know how I could go about organising my own charity
event. My cousin said, “I’ve got a mate Nick [Chisholm]– have a look at him and what he’s
doing and see what you think.” I watched a 20/20 story on him, and thought, yeah man, let’s
write him a letter and see if we can do something together. Then Nick introduced me to the
Stroke Foundation, and it all went from there.
Q. Isn’t running 50km per day going to be a heavy workload?
A. Yes it’s going to be huge, but I want to take it day by day, and break it down into three to
four different runs per day. Hopefully all my friends will back me and write me emails and
that will keep me going. I’m not looking at it as 2600km of running, even though I keep
getting asked that. I’m treating it like a job – I quit my job to do this, because it’s gotten so
much bigger than what I thought it was going to be.
Q. Have you spoken to other runners who’ve done similar cross-country runs about how
you can tackle this distance?
A. I first thought I’d have to get up and run 50km straight, not really thinking too hard about
it. But then I met one of the coaches of a famous Japanese TV comedian who ran around the
world, and his coach told me how he did it, by treating it like a job. He would get up at
6:30am and have breakfast, go out and walk a little, run 10km, have a break, then run
another 15km, have lunch, then run another 15km, have another break and then run
another 10km. He didn’t run on Sundays because he didn’t work on Sundays, so had it as his
day off. I hadn’t planned any days off when I first thought about it, but thought I may as
well. So I have planned to have rest days where my family and friends are, so I can enjoy the
social part of the run as well, which is important too.
Q. Why have you chosen the route you are running – it doesn’t look like the shortest path
A. I thought if I’m going to travel up New Zealand and have a good look around, I want to go
all different places and see my friends on the way up. For example, I’m going up to Wanaka,
as that’s where I’m from, but also wanted to go to where Nick lives. So I’m going out of the
way to see my home, and then back... what’s another 400km? I’m already doing 2000km! It
doesn’t faze me at the moment - it might faze me later. I’ve got little meeting points along
the way where I’m going to meet up with people, which I think will make it easier. Like it’ll
be 250km to get to Nick’s house from Wanaka, then another 200km till I see my sister.
It’s kind of worked out that every 300-odd kilometres I have a close friend or family member
that I’m looking forward to meeting up with, so hopefully that will help break it up and get
me all the way... plus have a little bit of fun in the process – it’s got to be fun!
Q. How long have you been planning this mission?
A. I first had the thought in October last year, when I was out for a run while working on
Barrow Island, in Western Australia. Having just finished my first 100km ultramarathon in
Japan, I was looking for another challenge. I wrote to Nick, and it grew from there.
Q. Has your Dad’s own recent stroke strengthened your resolve and motivated you further
for this mission?
A. Hugely. My dad having a stroke has scared me. It’s definitely upped the motivation. And
it’s shown me how unpredictable strokes are – they just happen. You don’t get a warning or
anything, I’d never thought dad would have a stroke, probably because I’d never heard of
anyone in our family ever having one. It’s made it more personal. It was already personal for
me, but now it’s personal for me and dad.
Q. What has your training been like? What’s been involved?
A. Being brutally honest – it’s been really up and down. Mainly because of the organising
and preparation that’s needed to do something like this. I went to Nepal and trekked up to
Base Camp and then ran the Everest Marathon, and also entered a 100km ultramarathon in
Japan. Since I’ve been home I’ve been out on the tracks around Wanaka and around the
lake. With the awesome scenery here in Wanaka it feels like I’m not running so far when I
actually am, just because it’s so beautiful. I run anything between 15km to 30kms most days,
but have had days where I’ve done more than 40km. I’ve been concentrating on having
more time on the road rather than worrying about the actual distance.
Q. How has Nick Chisholm been an inspiration to you?
A. I think Nick’s an inspiration to everyone. Everyone that hears about him gets inspired by
him. He’s just himself all the time. He loves to do anything crazy and fun, and works really
hard at getting where he wants to be. Having a stroke hasn’t stopped him, and he shows
everyone that having fun and being positive is the way forward. That’s the way I live too.
Nick laughs every day, and is surrounded by positive people - that’s the best thing about his
whole world. It’s his outlook on life and his way of dealing with challenges that make him an
inspiration to others. He’s even joining me on the run - setting amazing goals for himself.
Q. How much money are you hoping to raise for the Stroke Foundation through
A. I don’t have a number in mind – I just want to raise as much money as possible for the
Stroke Foundation, as well as raise awareness. Stroke affects so many New Zealanders, and
so I hope Kiwis will find it in themselves to donate. Even if everyone was to donate $1, that
would make a huge difference. I’ve met lots of people in the past six months while travelling
around the world, so already we’re raising awareness internationally. I have lots of
Australian friends that want to donate, and we have a big following in Germany too who are
going to fundraise and run over there too. I have already been given donations from some
contacts in Japan, and around New Zealand.
Q. Normally this is the terrain of professional runners – what makes you think a 38 year-
old plumber can run the length of New Zealand?
A. Cause I can. Cause you think I can’t. I don’t even know if I can, but I like the challenge of
thinking, “Can I?” – that’s more the point. I’ve never run more than 100kms, so I ask myself
the same question... and I’m telling myself I can. I don’t know if anyone who does crazy stuff
knows if they can do it or not, until they’ve tried it. I’ve talked to lots of people about how to
do it. I’m more worried about properly fuelling my body. I like the aspect of learning how to
do it – I know as much as the next person, but I enjoy the challenge - testing myself. I’ve
been researching, and will still be researching this up until the last day, but everyday I’m just
mentally telling myself I can do this. While it’s a massive physical challenge, it’s a real mental
challenge as well. I know myself and that I need the support of my family and friends, and I
know their support will get me through. I’ve talked to someone who’s run a 1000km charity
run, he said it’s all about being slow and steady – it’s not a race it’s about reaching your goal
Q. How are you managing to fund this trip?
A. Luckily I have some sponsors, I’ve had a great response from various companies showing
their support and offering their product. I’m still looking for help with fuel, accommodation
and food, which I will just pay for myself if nothing else comes through.