Run For Life – WHY?

Who is Perry Newburn?

Here is a bit of background as to why I came up with the name “Run for Life.” Yes, it could be a name of a book I started to pencil together last year. One day I may get it finished.  Here is the brief version…

I grew up (not too many years ago!) in a family with three brothers. My parents were incredibly supportive and encouraged us into sport as much as possible. I showed skills in Field Hockey – playing representative for the provinces and up to NZ University standard – as well as cricket. However, as a young person I was incredibly shy (yes believe it or not!) and as I went through my teenage years I drifted in the wrong direction at times. Often to feel accepted. After dropping out of University, twice, I headed over the ditch to Australia. This of course didn’t go well.

After being there approximately a year I began a 15 to 16 year battle with Heroin Addiction. After almost dying a couple of times I had a simple question which I needed to answer (although it wasn’t simple at the time). Do I want to live or do I want to die?

I chose the living and headed back to NZ to sort my life out. In brief from there, I got work, got back into sport and met a lovely lady whom I married (or should I say would put up with me?).

023This is when I started to get an enjoyment out of running, although it was later that the enjoyment deepened and I realized how important it was and still is to me. During this time I went back to study and completed a degree in Psychology, a post graduate paper in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, as well as a certificate in Adolescence Mental health. We also had a son (twenty years old now) who has a very rare chromosome abnormality – Partial Trisomy 13. Although he can be difficult at times he continues to teach us. During this period, working full time, studying full-time, as well as home responsibilities, running became my time out – a time to de-stress, to think or even not to think, and keep me mentally well.

As I got into my 40’s I thought it would be a great challenge to run a half marathon so I set a goal that I would run one by the time I reached 45. This I achieved and I took the lesson from this onboard – “the importance of setting goals.” The challenge, of course, after this was to run a marathon. So I set a goal of running one marathon by the time I reached 50 – again completed 6 months before my 50th. This was always going to be my first and last marathon I would run.

How things can change!

On completing that first marathon, the adrenaline pumping, I knew I could beat that time (4 hrs and 11 mins) and decided to do the same marathon again the following year. Now, 39 marathons later, I am still doing them, although the difference now is that after about the 25th I decided step into the ultra-arena, running my first 67 km approximately 7 years ago. These I enjoyed so much (strange I know) that they became my main emphasis. Also as time went on I set bigger goals with a very worthwhile cause to run for – the process of giving back to our communities. The motivation to get up day after day was huge.

A huge message I like to push out to the wider communities is the huge positive effect any form of exercise has on our mental wellness – not the sort of distances I do of course! The list goes on from here but it will give me much more to write about over the next few months.

One last comment – Exercise has to be fun!


SONY DSCPerry Newburn is an ultra-marathon runner from New Zealand and the current leader of Moon Joggers. At the time of this post he has already logged 5,247 miles for the year and has plans to complete even more before the year is through.  Next year, to celebrate his 60th birthday, Perry plans to break the master’s record and run across America in 50 days.  That is an average of 58 miles per day!  To follow Perry on his journey and to support him along with way, check out his blog at Perry’s Run: America in 50 Days.

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