Real Life

The day I decided to run a marathon on Everest

As part of our 'One Day' series, we speak to a variety of Kiwi women about pivotal days that changed their lives. In our first, we speak to a mother of two who’s facing off with a mountain…

By Ellie Hooper
The Kiwi who's running on Everest
Mother of two Mel, 32, from Wattle Downs in South Auckland, wanted to set herself a task that would inspire others. What she chose was a marathon on Mount Everest. As the only Kiwi to compete – we hear her story.
“I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in 2012 when I saw my friend Dan had completed a Marathon on Mount Everest. As the world’s highest run, it’s a feat of endurance like no other, and for some reason it appealed to me.
I’d been feeling like I wanted to do something big – something I’d be proud of and that would inspire others.
I teach Travel & Tourism, and have seen how a positive role model can have a fantastic impact on teenagers. I wanted to do something that would give them something to aspire to during this influential time of their lives.
The issue however, is that I’ve never been particularly athletic; I’m just an ordinary mum of two. So this was not an easy decision. But as soon as I started telling people what I was doing, they got inspired about their own projects too. It was like it was infectious.
Mel with her two daughters (and training gear)
After two years of planning, I’m now ready to compete at the end of this May in Nepal.
I’ve worked really hard in every aspect of my life to make this happen – so much so that I’m now called the “energizer bunny” by my friends and family, and the “freak of nature” when altitude training. The support I've had from everyone, especially my partner Ceri, 44, has been incredible.
But the path to Everest has not been smooth. The marathon in 2015 that I was originally meant to run in was cancelled due to an earthquake, something that killed many and devastated families. As a result, I raised almost $5000 for two charities in the Everest area, with my kids helping out with their own fundraising efforts too.
I’m also terrified about leaving my two young daughters – Aria, 7, and Maia, 5, behind when I go over to race, and it’s getting harder and harder to say goodnight to them.
Mel doing altitude training
Every time I tuck them in I think ‘what if something happens to me?’ and I feel a deep sadness to think of the kids growing up without a mum. But I know the positive impact me doing this will have on them will be huge. They’ve been so encouraging and are always telling people about what their mum is doing.
They will meet their own challenges in later life and I hope they too can see they will rise to them. In fact, both of my girls are now totally desperate to come along on the run.”
Mel, will compete in the Everest Marathon on the 29th May. For more details on her trip and to follow her progress head to her Facebook page.
If you’d like your story to be included in our #OneDay series, drop us a line at hellowomensweekly@bauermedia.co.nz.