Doing a marathon is one thing, climbing the Great Wall of China is another.
Karen Grootscholten is doing both – taking on the 2019 Great Wall of China Marathon later this month.
As part of the effort, the long-time Cambridge resident originally from The Netherlands is raising funds for the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand and plans to match every dollar she collects with a dollar of her own – up to $2,500 – making for a potential $5K total for the organisation she holds close to heart.
Ten years ago Karen was in a kite surfing accident and took five years to recover from a serious brain injury, still suffering from some side affects today. She hopes the funds will help the organisation research and treat neurological conditions, from head injury to MS and Alzheimers.
“One in five people are affected by neurological conditions, and there are a lot of things they can’t do, so hopefully more research will help them live a better life,” Karen said.
The main goal, Karen said, is to simply finish the race with a smile on her face. “Rather than being completely dead by the end of it!” she laughed. “I don’t think I’ll get a placing, but I do plan to finish it.”
“It all started simply because I wanted to achieve it, I thought it would be challenging, being a marathon on stairs, and it’s also exciting to see the Great Wall of China … And then I was like, hang on, I should be raising money for this!
“The best part will be raising money for a good cause, and the satisfaction of being able to say I did it, and taking home a marathon medal for finishing.”
Karen is training on all the stairs she can get her feet on – from Te Ko Utu Lake to the Hakarimatas, and runs about 50km per week, hoping to increase that as she nears the competition.
She’ll fly out on April 15, with the marathon commencing April 18. She’s most looking forward to spending time with other runners on the New Zealand team, seeing the sites of China, and finishing one of the most challenging marathons in the world.
“Having done races before it’s going to be really exciting standing there waiting for the start,” she said. “I think it will be really challenging after 28km, by then I’ll just want to be at the end! But when I’ve finished I’ll just be so happy, with a big grin on my face.”
Donations to support Karen’s cause can be made here.