Local runner Dick Breukink has run just over the equivalent distance of driving from Cambridge to Dunedin in half-marathons over the past decade, clocking up 100 races to raise money for Red Cross.
And it’s an even more impressive feat considering he was 52 when he started the challenge.
In honour of his achievement, the organisers of number 100 – the organisers of the Taupo Marathon – gave him the start number of 100 to run with, “such a very cool idea”, Dick said.
While he’s not sure exactly what started him running, Dick has enjoyed running on a regular basis since he came to New Zealand 12 years ago. “It all started in New Zealand and guess that the beauty of the running tracks here, made me enjoy it even more,” he said. Dick reckons he’s clocked up more than 13,000kms in pursuit of the century, and he said that the Taupo race on August 4 was his favourite. “Some of my management team (from the Novotel Tainui in Hamilton, where he is the general manager) and my kids were at the finish line, along with some friends and fellow running club members,” he said, which made it even more special.
Not one to slack off, Dick has also completed 14 full marathons over the past 10 years, including the New York and Sydney races.
But the hardest full marathon was the one done on a treadmill in the lobby of the Novotel Tainui hotel in Hamilton. With five treadmills set up in the lobby, other people came and joined him, including then-All Black Ma’a Nonu. New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew did a half-marathon on a stationary bike, while Richie McCaw and Steve Hansen were also there supporting.
That run was to raise money for the Cancer Society, after Dick’s wife Warin died from lung cancer at just 49 years old. “She encouraged me to run as well and after her passing, I guess that I run for her now.” Hoping to provide inspiration for others over 50 to get out there and get active, Dick said the trick is to remember that running is “sort of fast walking”.
“As long as you take step by step, you will get there. Set yourself some targets and stick to them. Age is just a number and if you want to accomplish something and you really want to do it, you got to tell your brain and get going.”
Wise words for people of any age.