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

From Timor to Tauranga

I was posted to Timor-Leste with the NZ Army and had completed three Ironman events where I completely self-coached with no idea what I was doing and finishing results that said as much.  Two of these events I had trained and competed in whilst on holiday leave from Timor.  I quickly realised that if I wanted to be committed to the sport that had changed my life around, I needed to take it seriously and sign up with a coach.  There are plenty of coaches to look for on-line or cheekily obtain a training programme on-line, but I had already made up my mind that Ray Boardman was the coach I wanted from Qwik Kiwi. Continue reading “From Timor to Tauranga”

How to prepare for a successful Enduro Cycling Event

Cycle Training NZ

I asked Andrea Davies (helmet number 9636) to write about her experiences training for and riding the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge Enduro (2 laps or 320km) event. Here is what she contributed:

I’d always wanted to ride two laps of Taupo so in Feb 2013 decided this was the year to tick it off my bucket list.  I had reconnected with trainer Ray who set my training schedule.  All was going well until I got knocked off my bike (by another cyclist) in July, which resulted in a hospital stay due to concussion and my pelvis suffering two breaks. Continue reading “How to prepare for a successful Enduro Cycling Event”

Di Chesmar: Not yet a World Champion

Tri Coach NZ

“Ray has been coaching me for a number of years now. Initially I approached him when, as a 50 year old, I started doing the women’s only triathlons.

At the time I was training myself for a range of distances in the indoor rowing competition at the Wanganui Masters Games. Ray developed a training plan specifically for me incorporating swimming, running, cycling and indoor rowing. This took into consideration my family and work commitments. Continue reading “Di Chesmar: Not yet a World Champion”

What does it take to ride the 640km Maxi Endurance as part of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Cycle Training NZ

Helen [Chief Crew] and I left our Turangi accommodation around 8.30am Friday morning for Taupo.  Handed in our waiver form, got race number onto the bike & front of helmet.  Nice to catch up with Tracy Parke & saw Andrew, both of whom did last year’s Maxi and also the Graperide.  Didn’t really know many of the other starters.  I believe that 26 men & 2 women were on the start line. Continue reading “What does it take to ride the 640km Maxi Endurance as part of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge”

Maxi Enduro Taupo Cycle Challenge 2014

Helen [Chief Crew] and I left our Turangi accommodation around 8.30am Friday morning for Taupo.  Handed in our waiver form, got race number onto the bike & front of helmet.  Nice to catch up with Tracy Parke & saw Andrew, both of whom did last year’s Maxi and also the Graperide.  Didn’t really know many of the other starters.  I believe that 26 men & 2 women were on the start line. Continue reading “Maxi Enduro Taupo Cycle Challenge 2014”

Cindy Gordon: First Timer

“As a first timer and relatively new to the sport of Triathlon, Ray and Andrea provided me with the expertise, advise and a training plan to get me not only to the start line but also to the finish line for my first 1/2 ironman. Their input was invaluable and I would highly recommend all those first timers to consider seriously using the services of Qwik Kiwi.”

–  Cindy Gordon

Challenge Wanaka (Iron distance) on Saturday 21 January 2012

Tri Training NZIt’s not called “Challenge” for nothing !   I drove the cycle course & ran a short bit of the run & cycled some of it.   I knew the crowd support would be totally different from Taupo and (thought I) was prepared for this.  The day dawned windy and the two lap swim was choppy.  There was an organised swim on the course the previous Wednesday which I did.  This provided an opportunity to note landmarks to sight off.  I had a great swim on the Wednesday and on race day I did a personal best for this distance by a minimum of 5mins.  Out of the water, there was a short run up over a make-shift foot bridge to transition.


The hills on the cycle course were much more fun than the long stretches to and from Cromwell.  Looking up from the aero bars, there was just vastness.  I’ve never complained about the ride to Reporoa and back in Taupo IM.  At least you have landmarks to lock onto.  The mountains behind Lake Wanaka looked like dots in the distance.  I was on target when I reached Cromwell.   However at around 110km the real work began.  Headwind.  70km of head/side head wind back to Wanaka.  I saw a few people stopped roadside stretching out cramped muscles.  I didn’t get off my bike until the dismount line.  Supporters were few and far between.  There were a couple of cars I noticed that must have been following someone near me, however I didn’t see a familiar face until the 150km mark.  Support from the volunteers at the drink stations every 20km was most welcome.  The last 30km of the cycle was a real mental challenge.


Marathon Coach NZThe wind didn’t let up on the run course either.  Dust & grit from the gravel track around the lake blew into my eyes, but luckily didn’t do any ‘damage’.   The run was pretty isolated as there was only one small stretch where you passed runners coming back.  Once again the volunteers at the aid stations were really supportive.  Aid stations were placed every 3kms.   About 10km into the run I was assigned a mountain bike buddy who stayed with me until the end.  I knew the tail enders would be assigned a buddy, so I expected this.  We hit it off really well.  He was extremely supportive and encouraging.  The run had lots of different surfaces & gradients.  I was warned not to try and run up Gunn Road as it “will destroy you”.  I think the elites even chose to walk this one.  Back out onto the road, Wellington Tri Club members surfaced & gave me a heap of support.  Around this time I was dealing with a lot of mental challenges.  I’ve never had so many low moments in an event.  Physically I was in the best shape ever, so there was no reason to stop.  However I forgot all my mantras, lost my reasoning & would have happily called it a day with a swim PB etc etc…    I was going to make a decision at the halfway point, but felt (mentally) really good then, so I picked up my headlamp from my special needs bag and carried on.   I always enjoy running in the dark & although this was no exception, I knew I was going to be outside the official cut off time.  Fellow triathletes made sure I continued on and probably deep down, that’s what I really wanted to do at the end of the day.  On the last lap, at the highest elevation on the run, we heard the fireworks display start down at the waterfront signalling 17 hours since the start gun.   That was tough.   Another 53 minutes and I crossed the finish line – managing a good sprint up to and down the finish shute.  It was all a bit surreal & I was so dosed up with caffeine that I didn’t need/get much sleep the next 48 hours !

The Challenge people are lenient with their late finishers and both me and Garth Barfoot (75 years young), who finished after me received a shiny gold finishers medal and our finishers t-shirt.

Challenge Wanaka
Coach Ray, Di and the team at the finishline


Challenge – tough, honest and definitely mentally challenging


The following day I had minimal stiffness/muscle soreness, no blisters and no sore toenails.  I felt the best of the 3 iron distances I have done so far.

Stats:     36 individual women (excluding elites) finished the Challenge and 148 men (excluding elites)


3.8km swim =    1:45:10 PB

T1 =                        0:09:28

180km cycle =    8:32:02 (an hour slower than Taupo IM)

T2 =                        0:11:12

42km run =         7:15:22 (over an hour slower than Taupo IM)

Total time=         17:53:17

4th in age group which was a ten year band.  Often they are 5 year bands.

I drove around 2200km on my lone journey down to Wanaka & back and enjoyed every minute of it.  Caught up with family and friends on the way.

I have a team triathlon & 2 standard distance triathlons left for the season.  Then it will be time to focus on the next big goal, February 2013.

Sean MacMillan: NZ Senior Mens DH MtBing Champ 03/04

I found Ray’s methods to be very enjoyable, progressive and most of all effective in assisting me to reach my goals. I was thoroughly impressed by his personality, enthusiasm towards my training and his flexibility in schedule to ensure my training would be as beneficial as possible and as such have no hesitation in recommending his training methods to anyone looking to further their enjoyment and/or results within their chosen sport.

–  Sean MacMillan