Marathon effort: five in five cities in five days

Wellington runners Greig Rightford (left) and William Tokona on the first of their five fundraising marathons yesterday morning. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Wellington runners Greig Rightford (left) and William Tokona on the first of their five fundraising marathons yesterday morning. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Hamstring tendonitis tends to stop most people in their tracks. But not former Dunedin runner William Tokona.

He is making the most of his regained mobility by running five marathons in five cities in five days - starting with Dunedin yesterday.

The Wellington personal trainer ran 42km on a circuit around Logan Park yesterday, and plans to run similar distances at Hagley Park in Christchurch today, the Viaduct in Auckland tomorrow, Redwood Forest in Rotorua on Thursday and Queen's Wharf in Wellington on Friday, with his Wellington running buddy Greig Rightford.

Ultimately, the pair hope to run the Marathon de Sables in April - a 243km marathon across the Sahara Desert, run in six stages over seven days.

Mr Rightford said they were using the five marathons in five days to prepare for the ultra marathon.

It was also hoped the runs would raise $50,000 for the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research in Wellington which conducts research into cures or vaccines for diseases and conditions such as arthritis, asthma and cancer.

Last year, the institute and the University of Otago Department of Microbiology collaborated to find an oral vaccine to fight tuberculosis.

Mr Tokona said their training regime had been interrupted by injury, after he developed a painful case of hamstring tendonitis and Mr Rightford broke his neck in a mountain biking incident in October last year.

Mr Tokona said he was only four months into what was normally a 12-month recovery, and Mr Rightford said he was just rejoicing in the fact he was still able to run, after breaking his C6 and C7 vertebrae.

''I'm pretty lucky not to be paralysed. I'm making the most of the fact that I'm upright,'' Mr Rightford said.

Everything had been made harder by the injuries which had temporarily stopped them from training, and Mr Tokona said they ignored the risks to fulfil their commitment to the Malaghan Institute.

After running a circuit around Butts Rd, Dundas St, Leith St North, Brook St, Cumberland St, Albany St, and Anzac Ave back on to Butts Rd eight times, the pair said they felt ''so, so''.

But their determination to continue for the sake of the Malaghan Institute was still strong, they said.

''We're hoping our recovery time is good. We're going to buy some ice now and put it on our legs,'' Mr Rightford said.

Adding to their pain last night, the pair had to drive to Christchurch because there were no flights from Dunedin to Christchurch last night.

He predicted it would be a trip where they would spend time sleeping.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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