NZ runners head for Great Wall of China Marathon

By Moana Makapelu Lee

Over 90 runners from New Zealand and Australia will take on the biggest marathon of their lives when they conquer the Great Wall of China Marathon this month.

The Influence Crew has been training and fundraising for over a year to get there. Tonight, they depart on the first leg of their life-changing journey

The day Influence leader Doug Healey and his crew have been preparing for has finally come as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Doug Healey says, “We've got people age range from 70-25. Health wise, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer survivors and sufferers, heart failure, we've even got one on board with a pace maker so everything you could imagine that could happen to someone they're there.”

They've been training for the last 52 weeks for the full marathon, half marathon and 8.5km fun run. For many of them, it's their first marathon ever.

Healey says, “Some have lost over 40-50kgs. As far as taking their life and providing a healthy environment within their home and their children. That's provided those avenues.”

Influence Crew founder Doug was determined to help people change their own lives after a tragic work accident a decade ago saw him snap his spine in three. Doug was told he would never walk again. Now he is teaching people how to run.

He says, “With the help of a few endorphins and I went out and did my first marathon and I loved it so much I thought gee wouldn't it be great for our Māori people to experience that.”

They will be largest contingent taking on this year's Great Wall marathon but hope to be even bigger when they take on the 2019 New York Marathon.

“That journey is going to be amazing and so we're just gearing up for that and registrations take place in July.”