This time next year, tens of thousands of people from around the world will be running the New York Marathon – and among them will be Christchurch’s Claire Heppenstall.

Claire is one of 13 people running the New York Marathon for the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).

“It’s absolutely huge, it would be a great achievement. There will be challenges in the coming year so getting to the finish line will be huge for me.”

The marathon will be Claire’s first – a challenge that she’s looking forward to.

Claire was inspired after reading an article about an Auckland Marathon runner who had his own experience with mental health problems and was fundraising for the MHF.

“I looked at it and thought 'yeah I could do that'. I think for me with the problems I’ve been having with depression, being able to support the MHF is something that is very close to my heart and really inspires me.”

Claire, who’s lived with depression for a decade, says the trip is something to set her sights on.

“One of the challenges with depression is thinking about the future and feeling negative about the future, so having something like this to look forward to is really positive for me.”

Claire started running at university, and it has come and gone as a form of exercise over the years. But she’s now started regularly, and runs four to five times a week in preparation for the marathon.

The plan is for Claire to join a local running group and train for the Wanaka Half Marathon in March. That will be Claire’s halfway point, and the countdown until she departs the Garden City for the Big Apple will begin.

Exercise also plays a big part in Claire’s wellness plan.

“Exercise has always been something that’s helped me with my depression so I do regular exercise, getting into the beautiful Port Hills in Christchurch, and running or walking along the beach.”

Claire says she’s feeling nervous and excited about the challenge ahead. Her game plan is to focus on crossing the finish line along with tens of thousands of other runners.

The Mental Health Foundation has three spaces left to fill in the New York Marathon November 2018 team. Visit the MHF New York Marathon information page to find out more.