Running for life skills

Allysia Kraakman wants to raise funds for Cambridge Lifeskills.

Cambridge mum-of-three and committed ultra-runner Allysia Kraakman wants to use her participation in a gruelling 160km run as a fundraiser for Cambridge Lifeskills.

The organisation that provides a free counselling service to school-aged youngsters.

Allysia, a qualified counsellor and strength coach, will run the Tarawera Ultramarathon – the Ultra 160km – event in Rotorua on February 13-14.  It’s an iconic trail running event considered to be one of the most scenic 100 mile runs in the world, taking runners through narrow single-track trails, wide trails, forestry and sealed roads.

Her decision to link it with a fundraiser for Cambridge Lifeskills was a ‘no-brainer’ she says.  Allysia worked for the organisation for a while after qualifying as a counsellor and is an ardent supporter.

“I love everything they do,” she said. “I needed counselling myself when I was a kid and a teenager. Lifeskills is such a gift to our community. To offer this service to kids is fantastic … it can be the one thing that prevents things from going really wrong for some of them.”

Running itself isn’t new to Allysia.  She has covered varying distances – 50km and 100km – during the past three years.  This 160km run– or 100 Miler as it is called – will be her longest yet.  She sets most of her own training schedule, working closely with her online coaches Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger. Now heading into the final stages of training, she is pounding the pavement at 4.30am most days, buoyed by the support given by her family, neighbours and friends. Most of them will be there for the big race.

Allysia has faced challenges in her own life.  She battled an eating disorder, then chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.  That was in the early stages of her marriage to Aaron, a man who has fought through his own health battles.  Grateful to have come out of her struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, Allysia wanted to start using her new-found health and thrived at Crossfit, coming second in her division in the NZ Crossfit Nationals of 2019.   She also dabbled in running marathons, but soon found it was trail runs that had her hooked.

Now, she views running as a way to help others, to encourage them and help them push through barriers, and to raise awareness around mental health.  “I don’t want my running to be all about me … I want something other than me to be important in all of this.  When I decided to do this race I wanted to see if I could use it to raise money for an organisation that really makes a difference.

“Then, when I contacted Sandy [Wesford, manager at Cambridge LIfeskills] about it, she suggested I might need counselling myself,” she laughed.

Anyone keen to get behind Allysia’s run, and help Cambridge Lifeskills in the process, should go online to

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