Press Release – Sport Wellington
Local runners are invited to join two ultra-athletes tomorrow (1 February) as they conquer five marathons in five days in five cities. To prepare for the gruelling 234km Sahara Desert ultra marathon in April Greig Rightford and Willy Tokona set off on challenging New Zealand-wide training runs in Dunedin on Monday. Their journey has also taken in Christchurch, Auckland, Rotorua and culminates in Wellington with a full marathon from Queen’s Wharf (Foxglove) at 8.30am.
Greig and Willy are running in the Marathon of the Sands (Marathon des Sables) between 4-15 April. The race is described as ‘the toughest footrace in the world’ due to the harsh terrain of sand and loose rock formations and the searing forty degree heat.
The two Wellington fitness gurus are fundraising for the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research – a New Zealand organisation whose work has global implications. Its focus is to discover cures and improve treatments for such diseases and conditions such as cancer, asthma and arthritis. They hope to raise $50,000 for the charity.
The Malaghan Institute is also the charity partner of AMI Round the Bays, the annual fun run organised by Sport Wellington and attracting up to 14,000 entrants. The final marathon for the pair tomorrow will feature as a training run for many Wellington people who will participate in the event.
“We’ve jogged the first four marathons averaging about 10km an hour so we’re certainly not running fast. We hope to have as many runners as possible join us in Wellington. We’re quite sore so would love the support,” Greig said yesterday (31 January) following their Rotorua leg.
Sport Wellington, in coordination with Athletics New Zealand, organised runners to meet Rightford and Tokona every morning in each of the five cities, to run with them at the start of each marathon.
Training for their ultra marathon has not been easy, especially during the last few months. Rightford broke his neck in October in a mountain bike accident and was training in a neck brace. Tokona injured his hamstring.
“We want to attempt this feat anyway, despite the risks,” says Rightford. “Ordinary runners throughout New Zealand have joined us, to both support the Malaghan Institute and learn more about the Marathon of the Sands,” he says.
How they handle the physical and mental challenge of competing in such an event is a main driver in the pair entering the desert race. A no less important motivation to them is providing inspiration to clients, friends and family – that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things – with the right attitude, planning and preparation.
AMI Round the Bays event director Craig Ireson says many runners in AMI Round the Bays have a similar motive. “They are ordinary people inspired to participate in an extraordinary event,” he says. Craig says many runners throughout the country set off with the two Wellington men each morning this week.
Marathon des Sables 4-15 April 2013
New Zealand marathon programme for Rightford and Tokona:
Dunedin, 28 January, running from Logan Park at 8.30am
Christchurch, 29 January, running from Hagley Park at 8.30am
Auckland, 30 January, running from the Viaduct at 8.30am
Rotorua, 31 January, running from the Redwood Forest at 8.30am
Wellington, 1 February, running from Queens Wharf at 8.30am (Front of Foxglove Bar, opposite Harbour Ferry terminal)
Charity Page: http://www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/SaharaCharityChallenge2013/
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sahara-Charity-Challenge-2013/199961130058963
Their Cause: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vc86-8_7FRg
Recent struggles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-fLD3RAD_SA