By PHILIP CHANDLER
A Queenstown nurse with a pacemaker has set herself the ultimate challenge — running the 3000km length of New Zealand.
Brooke Thomas, who sets off from NZ’s northernmost point, Cape Reinga, on Thursday, has wanted to run the Te Araroa Trail since receiving a pacemaker 10 years ago.
At 22, she’d had to give up her rowing career due to her heart condition, ‘‘so I kind of feel like I’ve got unfinished business with sport’’.
In the intervening years she’s broken eight bones, ‘‘so this was the first year I reckoned I could do it’’.
She’s trained for the past five months with local ultrarunner Adam Keen, who has coaching business AerobicEdge.
He’ll also join her for a tough stretch at the top of the South Island.
While undertaking a personal challenge, Thomas is also attempting to bring home to NZ the women’s record of 66 days, 7 hours, set by Aussie Lucy Clark last summer.
To that end, she’s aiming to smash out about 60km — equivalent to one-and-a-half marathons — a day.
‘‘There’s so many things that could happen, but the aim is to just keep moving every day.’’
‘‘She’s built up to 60km days where it’s kind of normal,’’ Keen says.
Examples have been running Southland’s Hump Ridge Track and Fiordland’s Greenstone-Caples Track.
Thomas has also got tips from former record-holder Mina Holder and, through her, met Kiwi George Henderson, who also set the men’s record of 49 days, 14 hours, last summer.
She even joined him for two days on that run over the Twin Thumbs and Breast Hill tracks, near Wanaka.
All up, the Te Araroa Trail’s equivalent to about nine climbs of Mt Everest.
Thomas says her parents will accompany her in a campervan.
‘‘They’ve just got a new grandson in Perth they haven’t seen, so that was way more interesting, until they couldn’t get to Perth.’’
Meanwhile, she’s also fundraising for the HeartKids NZ charity, and has already raised more than $6500.
‘‘Fundraising for HeartKids NZ is my way of giving back for all the support and medical expertise I have received throughout my own health journey.’’
She also wants to inspire other NZers with heart defects to chase their own dreams.
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