Paul Burridge, Ross Langley, Cam Eyre, Richard Cook and Josh Johnson have been training for the marathon for months and will be running to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.
“Most of us work in forestry, and some of us have beards. It made us think of Forrest Gump and his running efforts, and then the name, Run Forestry Run, just stuck,” Paul says.
Paul, who is the Head of Export and Regional Operations at Summit Forests NZ Ltd, says the modern work environment can take a toll on people’s mental health and the group wants to draw the industry’s attention to the importance of supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
But he says the Forest Industry Safety Council has recognised the role they play in supporting the mental health of forestry workers and is looking to add wellbeing into their programmes.
“At the start of every year we have industry Safe Start breakfast events in various regions, which have a strong focus on health and safety, wellbeing and resilience,” Paul says.
National industry leaders and representatives, including the Forest Owners Association, are supporting their marathon attempt, which the team hopes will help promote awareness for their cause.
“Some within the team have personally experienced struggles over the years with mental health issues, burnout in work and personal life or have seen close friends go through the same thing,” Ross says
Training together helps with motivation
Regular exercise and working towards a goal has made a difference in their lives.
“We train together as much as possible, even though the sessions can be a bit ad hoc,” Cam says.
There have also been a few injuries and sometimes the snooze buttons have been too difficult to resist.
“Recently Richard, Cam and I ran the Pouakai Circuit,” Josh says. “I slept in and I was 45mins late!”
The sleep-ins prompted the team to create Josh’s very own hashtag, “#dontgorunningwithjosh.
Despite missing the odd run and some challenging training sessions, the time together and shared experience drew the friends closer and boosted their wellbeing.
“A cause like mental health has really kept me grounded,” Ross says. “It’s given me new goals and challenges, and it’s a much better way of socialising, rather than catching up with mates over a beer.”
Encouraging others to get involved
Their advice to anyone who is thinking about running the Rotorua Marathon and fundraising for a cause is to “get amongst it”.
“It’s great positive energy in the build-up and on the day the events are amazing. In the modern world, it’s easy to deviate away from team type activities but experiencing a challenge like a marathon as a team is truly revitalising,” Richard says.
And just like Forrest Gump, the five friends plan to keep on running as they eye up future events.
“Never say never,” Cam says. “But unlike Forrest Gump, we are planning on giving our beards a good trim after the marathon.”
To help support the Run Forestry Run team visit their fundraising page
Learn more about the Rotorua Marathon and sign up for the event
More information about fundraising for the Mental Health Foundation