The High Five-0 Challenge for Mental Health

I first met Mal Law 4 or so years ago at a running event and was introduced by a mutual friend. To be in the company of one of New Zealand’s top adventure runners was awe inspiring to say the least, but I soon realised he was a very down to earth and humble person, actually a real nice bloke.

He talked about this BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) he had in mind but wasn’t quite ready to share just yet and please watch this space. He then rang me one day asking if I could give him a ride as he was doing a “reccie” up Mt Te Aroha.  I met Mal and Steve Neary half way up the mountain and ran down with them and discovered just what this BHAG was, to run 50 peaks in 50 days, 50 marathon distances! And before I could stop myself, I was heard to say “can I run with you on this leg”, being Mt Te Aroha and my home town. I was told that I could but there were more details to come and once again watch this space.

I got home and after thinking about it thought, Geez Suzy what have you got yourself in for this time! But I had made the commitment and will just have to follow my word. Over the course of two years it took him to train for the High Five O Challenge, I was known to send Coach Ray numerous emails that read like this….. I don’t think I can do this!…..I don’t think I am going to be able to keep up!…..holy moly it is one mother of a track and I’m scared!!! ,… .to which he replied with a list of many reasons why I could and would be able to do it.

Day 45 Mt Te Aroha finally arrived; Mal was very tired after all he had just run 44 peaks in 44 days and 44 marathon distances all over the country. I was excited, apprehensive and in awe of this very normal man doing huge feats of endurance and holding it all together to plaster a smile on his face and greet each and every one of us, his support runners of which there were ten.

We set off from the Karangahake car park in the gorge, Mal set the pace and we all settled in behind him and trucked along chatting and getting to know each other. The crew were a mixed bag, a lovely girl from Ireland, a man from Germany, runners from Tauranga that could do sub 3 hour marathons, runners from Auckland and Hamilton, and then there was myself and Julie from Te Aroha. The pace wasn’t fast but it was a good steady gait to which we made the most of on the flats as there was certainly some steep stuff to come. Plenty of river crossings, swing bridges, a quick snack at the Waitawheta hut along the way, plenty of photo opportunities and some very steep climbs and there it was…the Mt Te Aroha TV Mast and trig, we had made it! We were at the top, Whoop Whoop another peak knocked off. We were met by a small group of supporters with flags and after a last minute refuel we were on the decent.

We came down the mountain at speed and were met at the lookout point with a another bunch  of supporters and a bottle of red wine, after a compulsory swig it was home James – we burst out of the bush to a good old fashioned small town welcome, local band singing, BBQ and a hundred people yelling and screaming just for us! We felt like movie stars….

There are not enough “WOW” words to describe this Epic Journey – to help raise money for the  Mental Health Foundation, such a worthy cause and to run with a group of cool people and to be a wingman for the legendary Malcolm Law,” an ordinary man doing extraordinary things!”

 

Suzy Monds

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