Runner finishes his 5000km challenge

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:00 10/11/2012

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Running more than 5000km around the country might sound like an extreme thing to do, but for Perry Newburn, who completed the challenge to raise awareness for mental health, it was the power of the mind that kept him going.

Seventy days, 5300-odd kilometres and about five pairs of running shoes after he ran out of The Square on his marathon around the country, the Feilding resident jogged back in at 9.30am yesterday, having set off from Levin at 3am for the home stretch.

Members of Feilding's Moa Harriers joined him in stages from Shannon onward and accompanied him right up to the finishing line, where his wife Kath and son Sean awaited him.

Newburn, 58, told his welcoming party, which included Anne Wright of the Mental Health Foundation, the run wasn't about him but about raising awareness for mental health and wellbeing.

"OK there was 5300km in between, but I always say it's about the power of the mind what you can do."

Newburn came up with the idea to do the run to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation and awareness for mental wellness in April last year, having already completed about 39 marathons, 15 ultra marathons and a 15 day, 1053km run from Auckland to Christchurch last year to raise money for the earthquake appeal.

Mental health was a cause he considered hugely important, having struggled with his own issues in connection with a heroin addiction for 16 years.

Getting clean, back to his sporting roots and gaining a degree in psychology, a certificate in adolescent mental health and a post graduate certificate in alcohol and drug counselling, Newburn said he challenged himself to do a marathon before age 50.

He completed his first aged 49, and was hooked.

Before embarking on his latest challenge he was working at Palmerston North's Manawatu Accommodation and Sheltered Housing (Mash) Trust.

Mental wellness was an issue for everyone, he said.

Averaging 75km a day and stopping only to rest overnight, Newburn said he knew going in there were going to be hard points, but having that awareness helped him get through them.

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- Manawatu Standard

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