My name is Tom Sidey and I was lucky enough to be selected as a Hillary Inspirer for 2017! I’m a 25 year old member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force – kind of like Sir Ed himself was all those years ago – and have served for almost 8 years. Originally a country boy from Canterbury, I have been posted to the RNZAF Base in Auckland for 5 years. While it’s probably taken me that long to get used to the city itself, it’s hobbies like running that keep me sane.
A speedster – I am not. A mid-packer – I might be, if I have a tail wind? A first timer – I most certainly am! I have never run an official 5k trail race, half marathon, marathon or anything in between. In fact, I haven’t run in a running race since the compulsory 5km cross-country runs that they made us all do at high school. I guess you could say that I have thrown myself in the deep end by having The Hillary 80km Trail Ultramarathon as my first official race…but how hard can it be?! 😉
What I might lack in experience, I make up for in motivation and raw determination. I have studied my heart out on the internet, read countless books and as part of my hearty weekly running program I have been out to run stages of the Hillary Trail as my long run almost every weekend for the last three to four months; one of the benefits of living in Auckland! With just over 16 weeks to go, I will be ready for race day when it arrives and I will cross that finish line – no matter what it takes. While I want to cross the line in less than 13 hours, in all honesty, I’ll just be happy to make it.
So what actually possessed this complete novice to sign up in the first place? While I have many reasons, they all centre around one event. In 2012 – without warning – my younger brother took his own life at age 19. From that moment on, I promised that I would live my life in honour of him and constantly strive to be the best in all that I do. At the start of this year I decided that I wanted to do something to fundraise for the Key to Life (KTL) Charitable Trust (run by comedian Mike King) who was of assistance to my family following my brother’s death. I wanted to promote mental health and suicide awareness in hopes that even if one other family didn’t have to go through what mine had; then I had made a difference.
In order to raise as much money as I could, I wanted to do something that most ‘normal’ people wouldn’t consider doing. I was at work in February when a good friend and colleague showed me some photos on The Hillary’s website. The pictures of the Waitakere Ranges were breath-taking and I was instantly obsessed with the thought of running the 80km ultra – running a stupidly long race met my prerequisite for fundraising too! Now I know males aren’t great with emotions and all that but I ’m not going to lie; it was both a match made in heaven and love at first sight! There, I said it!
Countless items of clothing, gels, chews, shoes, an overly expensive watch, a race vest and an entry to the 80km Ultra were purchased within the next month and it was around then that I was diagnosed with Trail/Ultra Running Psychotic Syndrome, or ‘TURPS’ for short. I think it was always going to happen…! As it’s turned out, I almost get a sick sort of kick when people use expletives to describe the level of crazy that I must be for running the distances that I do…some people get quite creative too I might add!! In reality, I’m just an ordinary chap who has set himself a somewhat extraordinary goal. I believe that people are often best defined by both what they do and how they act when either the going gets tough, or they’re totally exhausted/ at their weakest. I want to push myself to my mental and physical limits to see what I’m made of; do I give up, or do I keep going until the end?
Being a total rookie, I’m learning through experiences as I go along, continually finding out what does and doesn’t work. I will be talking about it all (both good and bad) along with Jared and Rebekah over the next few months. I trust that you’ll enjoy what we have to say…even if our blogs only teach you one or two things along the way, then it’s been well worth our time.
Finally, I would just like to thank the Shaun and the Lactic Turkey team not only for the opportunity to be a Hillary Inspirer, but for making this amazing event happen. I know I’m not alone when I say that February 25th can’t come quick enough!!