Warkworth dad Aidan Smith achieved what would be impossible for most of us on the weekend of February 19, when he ran well over 100km in less than 24 hours along Te Araroa trail.
His epic journey started at Waipu at 7am on Saturday and ended in the wee small hours of Sunday morning at Moir Hill, just three km short of Puhoi village and his target of 105km. Aidan says after so long on his feet, including several unscheduled climbs over storm-felled trees in the Dome, he’d reached the point where there was nothing left in his tank.
“If I had gone on down through the Puhoi bush, I don’t think I would have made it. Once we got to the top of Moir Hill, I was pretty done, so just carried on along the road until I got to 102km,” he said.
That particular milestone was significant, as it was the length of the Tarawera Ultra Marathon that Aidan had originally signed up for, before he switched to the Te Araroa run when Covid restrictions caused that event’s cancellation.
He said the day had been incredibly challenging, but also really inspiring, especially when family, friends and even complete strangers came out to cheer him on, or even join him on his run.
“What was really difficult was trying not to think about how far I had to go all at once, because it was quite overwhelming, especially when I was feeling really, really exhausted,” he said. “And once we left Pakiri, it ramped up and just got so much harder.
“But there were a lot of people who came out to say hello,” he said. “There were guys who ran along with me, and the cricket club at Pakiri were cheering me on and calling out my name. That was incredible.
“The response from the community has been pretty amazing, the amount of people who have got behind me.”
He also expressed gratitude to his partner, Emily, and other family members for running with him and being his support crew throughout.
“It was a really crazy day for me but as it progressed, it really turned into something that everybody was a part of, a real family effort.”
Aidan was raising money for Ronald McDonald House NZ, after he and Emily spent months in and out of Starship Hospital with their son Luke, who has had serious health issues since he was born two years ago (Mahurangi Matters, Feb 14). By the end of last week, his efforts had raised more than $16,000.
Donations can still be made at https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/running-for-ronald