Real Life

Mum-of-two follows Ed Hillary’s path to Everest: ‘What a privilege it is to be a Kiwi’

Mel Fey, 32, just ran a marathon on Everest. She speaks exclusively to Women's Weekly online about following in the footsteps of a Kiwi legend.

By Ellie Hooper
Mel Fey runs marathon on Mt Everest
Last month, we caught up with mum of two Mel Fey, 32, about her biggest challenge yet – running a marathon on Mt Everest.
And now the inspirational teacher, from Wattle Downs in South Auckland, has returned from her trip triumphant – after completing the marathon she began planning over three years ago.
“Words do not seem enough to express the experience that I and my new friends had the opportunity to share with one another,” said Mel, adding that the trip tested her both physically and mentally.
“There were points where I had to tell myself to keep going, because the strain on my body was overwhelming.”
And as if running a marathon alone wasn’t impressive enough, Mel and her competitors had to deal with the harsh conditions of high altitude on top of their already exhausting feat.
Mel reflecting on the mountain
“The effects of altitude meant getting to base camp was a feat in itself. We experienced headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath. Three of our group had to be helicoptered out due to ill health, but luckily I managed to continue on.”
And 9 hours and 56 minutes after setting off, Mel crossed the finish line - over the moon at what she’d achieved.
“I couldn’t control my emotions…this was the moment I had been waiting for for three years,” she described. “I just looked up at the crowd cheering me on and it felt fantastic.”
Mel, who admitted she’s “never been particularly athletic,” set herself the task of running the Hillary Tenzing Marathon back in 2012, but was delayed by tragedy.
The original marathon Mel was meant to run in 2015 was cancelled due to a devastating earthquake, that killed many in the area.
Mel passing on the money she raised to one of the Nepalese widows
As a result, Mel raised almost $5000 for two charities – the Himalayan Trust and Sherpard Widows - presenting some of the widows with the money in person during her trip.
“I’ve never met such a grateful group of people,” said Mel, who described the moment she delivered the money to the ten widows as “one of the most heart-warming experiences I’ve ever had.”
“I witnessed a moment that for them that would mean survival.”
Mel also described her pride at being able to see what Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed the Mountain in 1953, had done for locals in the area.
“What an amazing man,” she said. “What a privilege it is to be a New Zealander.”
Hillary devoted most of his life post Everest to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, one of the charities Mel raised money for.
Mel was proud to represent New Zealand in the event
Now back teaching at the International Travel College of New Zealand, Mel hopes to inspire others to set positive goals for themselves - especially the teens she teaches.
“My kids, 5 and 7, have both written notes telling me how proud they are of what I’ve done. I hope when they’re older it means they’ll go after their own challenges too.”
Have you got a real life story you'd like to share with us? Email hellowomensweekly@bauermedia.co.nz - we'd love to hear from you!