Excitement—or maybe anxiety—woke me up early, before my alarm. I knew I had taken on a big challenge. I should have trained, should have prepared, but hadn’t had time. A week of meetings and “eatings” had passed very quickly and the big day was here—the day of the “Making Heroes” ADRA NZ charity run (November 27).
So I got up, put on my running gear and packed my bags into the car. It was my last day in Auckland before flying back to Sydney. But first, I had to overcome the 10-kilometre run that I’d signed up for. The only other time I’d taken part in a run like this was an Adventist health run in San Antonio. That had been a very early start to avoid the hot Texas summer. I was hoping temperatures in Auckland didn’t reach that level!
I arrived early and watched as those who had signed up for the 21-kilometre event set off.
Mission Bay is a beautiful part of Auckland, overlooking water and the city. The designated track hugs the coastline and provides some spectacular views. The park where the start and finish line was located has a giant fountain that sprays water high into the air, natural air-conditioning, depending on which way the wind is blowing.
I made some half-hearted stretching attempts, took some photos and prepared myself for the challenge ahead. I felt really good about what I was about to do. The temperature was perfect and I felt like a winner. That’s because I’d already reached my target of raising $500 (eventually $550), thanks to the generosity of family and friends.
You see this wasn’t just an international fun run to tick off my list. It wasn’t just an event that I could report on or a place to enjoy some scenic views. No, this was an opportunity to serve, to contribute to a good cause, to help ADRA NZ continue its work of helping children around the Pacific.
Before I knew it, the race had begun. I started jogging across the park, around the fountain and off down the road. On my left, over a border of white sand, the bay stretched out. On my right, trendy cafes, a bit of parkland and families taking a Sunday morning stroll. And through it all, hundreds of us, running for a cause. I dropped in behind one of the pacers. I thought if I could follow them for awhile, it would help keep me going. Before I knew it, I saw the 1km mark slide by. Wow, only 9/10ths to go!
Lots of Adventist church members were there along the route to help out with the water stations and directions on the course.
It wasn’t long, however, before my foot started to ache. I’d had some trouble with it weeks earlier but it seemed to have gotten better. Yet the uneven footpath in some places started to cause it to hurt again. My lungs gulped for air like a fish out of water and I slowed my pace, regretting the dessert I’d eaten the night before.
Oh well, nothing left but to soldier on. Again, I broke into a jog, trying to find a gait and place my foot in a way that caused it the least stress. I was determined to finish this run. In front of me loomed the first hill. Someone (looking at you Braden) had told me the route was very flat. It didn’t look flat as I struggled up the hill.
By this time, much of the main pack had leapt ahead. But I wasn’t there for a podium finish—just for fun and for the cause.
Thankfully, as I climbed the hill, the view to my left only got better. Finally, I reached the top. The road continued around and along to a park. And then, up another hill steeper than the first. By the time I reached the top, my lungs really were burning. At least this had to be the last of the climbs right?
Luckily for me it was; the rest was downhill. However, when we reached the beach path again, there was a strong headwind to push into. Why wasn’t it there when we left? I thought maybe I’d run from Auckland to Wellington the wind was so strong. But no, there in the distance, I could see the sky tower. Ok, right city then.
As I pushed my way home, it felt good. You know when you’re breaking new ground, everything moves more slowly and seems harder but the way back always seems quicker. I started seeing the runners and walkers who had taken part in the 5km course, which started later than the 10km one.
There was the park and there was the finish line. I found that I still had energy in my legs and quickened my pace to dash over the line. I really wanted to raise my arms and burst through the tape . . . but didn’t. Maybe I should have.
I was greeted by more friendly volunteers and given some water, and a showbag filled with Sanitarium goodies. I had made it through my first 10km run in a time of 1 hour and 9 minutes. I was happy with that. I had a sore foot but I’d made it.
Now it was time to warm down but the event was far from over.
There was a kids’ dash. All the children lined up in their superhero costumes and ran two laps of the park. The friendly team from Sanitarium were providing cereals and a sausage sizzle.
Then it was time for the prize giving. Prizes were handed out for the best dressed and the highest fundraisers as well as the first, second and third runners in each of the distance categories. One young lad won both the junior and overall highest fundraiser—his prize? A trip to an international ADRA project.
What a day. After seeing some old friends and meeting some new ones, it was time to go home, back to shower, change and do some last minute shopping before jumping on a plane to Sydney.
Seeing people from all walks of life, church members, our institutions and other organisations (the local Christian radio station provided the MC) come together was heartening. It proves that our Church can and does provide relevant, healthy and useful services to our communities. And that with a little determination, anything is possible.
It was announced that the run had raised about $NZ82,000. Another win.
So if you are in Auckland next year around this time, it would be well worth doing the ADRA charity run—whether the 5km, 10km or 21km. It was definitely a fun run but I might actually do some training to try to beat my time. Maybe I’ll see you there.