Rod Gill, 70, set to complete 52 half marathons in 52 weeks

CHRISTINE CORNEGE/ FAIRFAX MEDIA NZ

70-year-old runner Rod Gill is on track to complete 52 half marathons in 52 weeks.

 Rod Gill is about complete 52 half marathons in 52 weeks at 70 years of age.

Taking up running just three years ago with a mate, Gill found he had "got the bug" and entered a few fun races, before things were suddenly sent to the extreme - when he set himself the outrageous task of 52 of the 21-kilometre hauls in 52 weeks.

"It was just a challenge more than anything," Gill said, ahead of his finale.

Hamilton 70-year-old Rod Gill is about to complete his goal of 52 half marathons in 52 weeks.
CHRISTINE CORNEGE/FAIRFAX NZ

Hamilton 70-year-old Rod Gill is about to complete his goal of 52 half marathons in 52 weeks.

"I didn't realise it was such a big ask."

READ MORE: 93-year-old in training for world cycle race

Gill has always played sport - a former A-grade tennis player in Auckland, then a B-grade squash player in Hamilton at age 50. Ironically, he'd done a couple of marathons in the 80s, though had never done the half distance, until embarking on this journey.

With a big wall calendar and wife Jean organising his itinerary, Gill set out on his quest, traversing the North Island, with 13 road races, and 39 trail runs making up his allotment. It hasn't been cheap either, with nearly $20,000 spent on entry fees, travel, accommodation and gear (he's been through six pairs of shoes).

Some months Gill would do six races, and he even included one full distance one which he admirably didn't count as two. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve were on his schedule, while four times he ran back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday, to ensure he kept ahead of schedule.

"I've run in the snow, hail, thunder, lightning. Some of those trail runs are diabolical, you're up to your knees in mud," Gill said, recalling tough days in the likes of Colville and Woodville.

"It was hard at times, but it wasn't too bad, I enjoyed it, interesting, you meet a lot of people, get around the country.

Ad Feedback

"It's more mental than anything, long distance running, especially.

"Once you've had a lot of runs you get used to it."

While trail runs would take him anywhere between three and four hours, Gill clocks remarkable pace, with his road events – his favourite being the Auckland half, across the harbour bridge – seeing him often go at 5min 20sec for his 1km splits, which even those in their 20s would be proud of. His personal best is a sprightly 1hr 52min.

Gill admitted he never thought he would do anything like this at his age.

"But it just shows you, you can do anything," he said.

"I was told I was stupid at the beginning."

That wasn't without reasoning, mind you, with Gill having arthritis in his groin, and told by a doctor he required a new hip.

"I could hardly get in and out of the car at times, and every time I did a long run I was in a lot of pain," he said. "But the more I kept running, it seemed to disappear.

"I've had no trouble with my arthritis since. It's been amazing."

There haven't even been any injuries to speak of during Gill's campaign, though the last month it's been discovered he has an iron deficiency.

"I've had a few short of breaths and dizziness, and they reckon it could be caused because I'm burnt out," he said. "So I'm having some tests when this is all over.

"I feel good and everything. They just give me an iron injection each week, to do the last couple."

In between all his runs, Gill still even goes to the gym every day.

"I just enjoy it. It's good being retired. You've got to do something," he said.

"It's a matter of use it or lose it.

"A lot of people give up too early, I reckon."

Just three years back Gill frequented the Hamilton Combined Services Club daily, and while his diet is nothing special now, beer being out of the equation, he is looking forward to his beloved fish and chips which he has gone a year without.

For his last effort on Saturday, Gill will finish with the familiar "parkrun" event - the timed 5km run, which is held in several countries each Saturday. He'll start about 6am and get three rounds done, before his Hamilton Road Runners club members will join in. Gill will also have his wife walking that final 5km stretch, with other family and friends on hand to help celebrate afterwards at the club - where he was named 2016 Runner of the Year.

"I might just walk and trot round and talk to people, take it easy," Gill said. "I've got nothing to prove really now, I've done all my best times I could."

But if you thought this would be the end of his running exploits, Gill has more age-group records in his sights. He wants to do more half marathons, 10km events, a prominent marathon in the United States, and the Coast to Coast.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Blistering pace

Waitākere Cricket Club's Ben Lister has been called up to Auckland's senior squad for this season.

Young west Auckland bowler Ben Lister called up to Auckland Aces.

Million dollar wind fall

The winning ticket in Wednesday night's $1 million draw was sold at Countdown Browns Bay on Auckland's North Shore.

Mid-week celebrations for a lucky Aucklander after Lotto win.

Children love the taniwha

Mahi Pai at Manukau Institute of Technology.

More than 1500 South Auckland youngsters were treated to the very popular Mahi Pai taniwha performance over Māori Language Week.

Wide Awake at Hawkins Theatre

Hawkins Theatre is staging the play Wide Awake.

An award winning children's play is hitting the stage in Papakura.

Wellington

Eli gains loyal, helpful friend video

Six-year-old Eli Burkhalter with  his new assistance dog Taffy.

Taffy the golden labrador is a welcome companion for six-year-old Waikanae boy.

Kids sick on synthetics

Synthetic drugs, often mixed with dried leaves resembling cannabis, have claimed at least 20 lives in New Zealand this ...

Youngest was just 5 as three Porirua kids taken to hospital severely ill.

SH1 blockage cleared

NZTA advised of delays on around the Paremata roundabout and Mana on State Highway 1 after a three-car crash at Plimmerton.

Minor delays continue after a two-car crash near Plimmerton.

Capital train strike likely

Capital commuters are likely to face disruptions as rail workers prepare to strike.

Disruptions ahead for Wellington rail commuters as employment dispute boils over.

Canterbury

'Bound together by cancer' video

Christchurch father of two  Kevin "Chalky" Carr received the news that his pancreatic cancer was back  and his prognosis ...

This time last week, cancer patient Chalky Carr had never met Isla Lunn. Now he's raising $100,000 for the 7-year-old.

Service 'horrific' video

Michelle Bishop is upset at the service received by funeral home Poppy Funerals following the death of her daughter ...

Woman calls for funeral industry to be regulated after ongoing problems following her daughter's death.

Who won the final debate? video

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Labour party leader Jacinda Ardern speaks during the TVNZ Vote 2017 2nd Leaders ...

Jacinda Ardern looked and sounded like a woman in a fight for her political life. And she is.

Bike theft at bottle-point

Two friends were robbed of their bikes at bottle-point near Papanui High School.

The two robbers fled on bikes stolen from men in Northcote, Christchurch.

Waikato

Seven daring ducklings rescued 

The rescue operation saw the safe retrieval of seven ducklings from a Whitianga drain.

It took half an hour to rescue the seven ducklings from the depths of the drain.

Cocaine, cash found

The armed offenders squad helped execute a search warrant in Te Aroha.

Seven searches in Te Aroha were undertaken netting cocaine, cash and five arrests in a pre-dawn raid.

Historic pub killing set for trial

Chris Bush was shot and killed in October 1987.

Two men to stand trial next year over the murder of pub manager Chris Bush 30 years ago.

Kiwis want water levy

Farmers protested perceived attacks from politicians in Morrinsville on Monday, September 18. A new survey shows the ...

The majority of Kiwis want to see farmers pay for water use, a new survey shows.

Taranaki

Ngā Manu Kōrero begins

Dr Ruakere Hond addressed the manuhiri (visitors).

Students from 52 schools across Aotearoa have arrived in New Plymouth for a speech competition.

Principal search

Lynda Stuart, president of the NZEI, said there are ore principal vacancies than usual.

Four schools are looking for principals, and another four are looking for deputies and assistants.

The 'hero' in the beauty aisle

Shane White's training kicked into action as soon as he got to the man who collapsed in the beauty aisle.

Ian Foreman collapsed in a New Plymouth supermarket only for the produce manager to save his life.

Truck rolls, spills load of urea

A truck rolled on Opunake Rd, spilling urea, and blocking the area to traffic.

Truck and trailer unit rolls and spills load.

Manawatu

The final debate video

From left, Greens candidate Thomas Nash, NZ First MP Darroch Ball, National candidate Adrienne Pearce, Money Free Party ...

Palmerston North candidates battle over mental health and Manawatū Gorge at final debate.

MP flees farmers

Labour candidate for Palmerston North Iain Lees-Galloway left a farmer meeting about irrigation tax early.

Labour MP claims he was "physically pushed" and his van rammed.

Suspected armed robbery at BP

The BP service station in Main St, Palmerston North, has had another suspected aggravated robbery.

Two people are believed to have carried weapons into a BP and robbed it in Palmerston North.

Debate strikes useful balance

The Manawatu Standard candidates debate was broadcast live on Facebook.

OPINION: Election campaign meeting mixes information with humour and differences.

Nelson

'What's a candidate?' video

Birchwood School students from left Jacob 8, Talei 9, Mia 8, talk to Stuff about their thoughts on the election and politics.

They can't legally vote until 2029, but they still have strong views on the election.

Earthquake jolts NZ

The quake was centred 30 kilometres northeast of Seddon.

Central New Zealand jolted by a short and sharp earthquake.

Power back on

A power outage on Wednesday afternoon has affected residents in Richmond, Brightwater, Wakefield and Mapua.

Power has been restored to 12,000 homes and businesses after a Transpower fault. 

Kea shooter sentenced

A man's been sentenced to 200 hours community work for killing a kea.

A man who shot at kea who were damaging his property has been sentenced to community work.

Marlborough

Dinner's in the bag

Sous chef Emily Hulburt, 5, helps out in the kitchen preparing a 'My Food Bag' recipe.

By her own admission, reporter Paula Hulburt is a whizz with a microwave. As the first delivery of My Food Bags arrive in Blenheim, she took one for a test drive.

Earthquake jolts NZ

The quake was centred 30 kilometres northeast of Seddon.

Central New Zealand jolted by a short and sharp earthquake.

Cafe confrontation

Prime Minister Bill English stopped in at BV Gourmet in Blenheim on the campaign trail on Tuesday. (File photo)

PM's coffee break gatecrashed as Labour candidate accuses National supporters of ripping down billboards.

Weather closes newly-fixed rail line

The Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch has been closed due to bad weather, just days after its post-quake ...

Just a single train managed to traverse the newly-repaired rail line from Christchurch to Picton before bad weather closed it again.

South Canterbury

Men's health focus of campaign

Jonty Penney from Timaru is participating in the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise funds for men,s health.

Two Timaru men are taking the health message on the road.

Flow-on concerns

David Hurst, from A J Engineering in Washdyke, is concerned about the impact of the water levy.

S Canty businesses concerned about impact of Labour's water levy, spokesman says concerns unjustified.

New Mackenzie CEO

New Mackenzie council chief executive Suzette van
Aswegen.

A current staff member will take on the top job at the Mackenzie District Council.

'He's a hero,' neighbour says

The remains of the Waipopo property on Wednesday afternoon.

Waipopo man who rescued wife from fire would have used 'every bit of strength'.

Otago

Search for missing man

Missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe.

More than 30 ground searchers, three search dogs and an aerial search have failed to find any further sign of missing Dunedin man Stephen Lowe

Serial sea lion killer at large video

A sea lion found shot on a Catlins beach in Southland in April.

A serial killer may be targeting New Zealand sea lions, with a $5000 reward on offer in exchange for the culprit.

Fired while on sick leave

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Oamaru-based P&W Painters (PWP) to compensate former employee Paul ...

Company that unfairly fired brush hand while on sick leave also had to compensate an ex-staffer who was called a "baby killer".

Kidnapping duo plead guilty

Nick Miles, 24, and Gary Michael Wilson, 46, have admitted kidnapping a man and dumping him on the outskirts of Dunedin.

Two men kidnapped and dumped another man on the outskirts on Dunedin.

Southland

Youth organisations make appeal

Sam Balloch was one of dozens of volunteers seeking signatures for a petition to keep Number 10 One Stop Shop and ...

Number 10 Youth One Stop Shop and the Invercargill Secondary Schools Network are gathering support for their petition to remain at their current location.

Pound in clear

An animal group and the Invercargill City Council are at odds about how a dog was treated. (File photo)

Ministry for Primary Industries clears the Invercargill City Council over captive bolt use.

Forestry gets favour: ES

Nicol Horrell, chairman of Environment Southland.

''Forestry operators will be able to operate at lower environmental standards than other resource users in Southland."

Quake off Southland coast

A magnitude 5.8 quake struck near Southland.

A 5.8 earthquake hit off the coast of Southland - but its shaking was unnoticeable, GeoNet says.

Ad Feedback