On January 22, a nurse and runner from New Zealand named Brooke Thomas completed a 3,000-kilometre journey on the Te Araroa Trail, which stretches almost the entire length of the country, from the top of the North Island right to the bottom of the South Island. Thomas set off on November 26 and ran for 57 days, 12 hours, breaking the Te Araroa women’s route record by almost nine days. She used her run as a chance to fundraise for Heart Kids, a nonprofit in New Zealand that supports children living with heart defects, and has raised more than NZ$26,000 (around C$24,000) so far.
Running the Te Araroa
The Te Araroa Trail is a little over 3,000 kilometres long, and Thomas averaged about 50K per day. For a small portion of that, she actually kayaked, as the official trail route crosses rivers. Otherwise, she was on her feet, and as she notes in her post-run report on fastestknowntime.com, for most of the North Island, she ran alone (although her parents, acting as her support crew, followed her progress in a camper-van, and they met up each night).
Thomas’s run took her through many of New Zealand’s bigger cities, including Auckland and Wellington, and she passed through her home town of Queenstown on the South Island, not far from the end of the trail. Throughout the run, many friends and family members joined Thomas and helped her through the arduous and lengthy challenge.
As reported by Newshub, a Kiwi news website, a crowd of supporters met Thomas at the end of her journey, which she completed late on the night of January 22. When she crossed the finish line, with more than 3,000 kilometres behind her, Thomas had crushed the previous Te Araroa Trail record of 66 days, 7 hours, which Australian runner Lucy Clark ran in 2020.
A few days after completing her run, Thomas posted some thoughts on Instagram. “Running the length of a country is without a doubt the toughest challenge I have ever undertaken before,” she wrote. “Yet somehow all the moments of struggle, exhaustion, frustration and disbelief in myself are so quickly forgotten in comparison to the excitement, raw happiness and gratitude that I have experienced throughout this journey.” She continued, writing that this is a good life lesson and noting the importance of persevering through “tougher times, because it will never feel as bad once you get to the other side, and the lows just make the highs feel that much higher.”
Why Heart Kids?
As Thomas explains on her fundraiser web page, Heart Kids is an important charity to her because she has dealt with cardiac issues in the past. A decade ago at the age of 22, she was diagnosed with a heart condition that required her to receive a pacemaker.
“Fundraising for the Heart Kids is my way of giving back for all the support and medical expertise I have received throughout my own health journey,” she writes. “Every week, an additional 12 kids are diagnosed with heart defects in New Zealand. So many of these will be battling exponentially tougher pathways than I have been on myself.” Thanks to the healthcare she has received, Thomas is still able to be active, and she writes that she hopes to inspire “Heart Kids to figure out their own boundaries and keep chasing their own dreams.”