Gumboot Run NZ
Gumboot Run NZ
Empowering People at a Grassroots Level
It was a pearler of a day in South Taranaki’s town of Hāwera where local dairy farmer and fitness enthusiast Kane Brisco ran 50 kilometres for Gumboot Run NZ: an event that he set up to raise funds for two New Zealand mental health charities, I Am Hope and Will To Live.
Kane has been farming for 17 years, starting out in dry stock and later moving to dairying. He started his fitness initiative, Farm Fit NZ, as a means to provide a platform for people to connect with others in the rural community and workout together. Like many farmers, Kane has gone through challenging times – working long hours and enduring stressful conditions.
“Going through my own challenges, I've always relied on my fitness as a tool to help my physical and mental well-being and to make the job on farm easier. So, Farmfit has been about passing on to other people what I've learnt and the things that have helped me through tough times. It’s about doing something positive for themselves that is not just good for them, but it's good for their farming business, good for their family and good for the community around them,” he said.
Kane created Gumboot Run NZ with the same vision in mind that he had for Farm Fit NZ: to create a platform for people to connect, to encourage people to get outdoors and to enjoy some physical activity. The great part about this event was that you weren’t just donating money from your pocket, you were actioning your support, and in doing so, bringing awareness to your own mental well-being through physical participation. Every kilometre that people ran (or walked) in gumboots, a monetary portion would be donated to two charities that are doing incredible work for our youth and our rural community.
I Am Hope is a not-for-profit that provides free counselling for our young children, offering support and positive change in schools and communities around New Zealand. Will To Live is a rural-focused mental health charity that provides free psychologist sessions to farmers and those living in the rural community, along with offering a range of education and ongoing support for farmers.
“I think one of the biggest problems we find as farmers is that it's 24 hours a day and your mind literally does not switch off. You’re thinking about what you've got to do tomorrow or how the cows are outside because it's such a huge responsibility looking after animals. So, the only way to switch off is to be able to change your focus to something else. As difficult as exercise, trainings and sports can be at the time, it's a great way to squeeze the farm out of your focus and it's mentally refreshing going and doing something else that you enjoy – it's huge,” Kane said.
With mental health being the focal point of this event, Kane views this as a really important topic for everyone. “Everything starts in the top two inches. Everything we do physically is all controlled upstairs. So, whether you're in business or looking after family, whatever it is you do in life, mental health is the key – it underpins everything we do. It's super important that we stay good up in the top two inches and keep it on that level.”
We saw many individuals and groups getting involved in the Gumboot Run NZ initiative across the country. A guy by the name of Ryan Nicholson got dropped off in Petone and walked around the coastline, clocking up a total of 69 kilometres. A man that lived on the outskirts of Hāwera decided to walk into town and complete 64 kilometres. Another man from Auckland drove down to Taranaki to complete a 35-kilometre run alongside the locals. A lady in Palmerston North walked for 20 hours reaching the 60-kilometre mark. Those were just a few of the inspiring participants in Gumboot Run NZ this year.
Kane highlighted, “I wanted to create a positive vibe around mental health. A lot of it is doom and gloom, but it’s pretty cool doing something special for yourself. I want to encourage people to connect and bridge the rural-urban divide because there’s no barriers to that.”
Altogether, there were 525 confirmed participants that tracked their kilometres in the Strava app that was set up by Kane to tally up the total distance: 4,798 kilometres over a 48-hour period. Currently, the total funds raised by everyone involved totalled to $20,000, with donations still coming in from their Givealittle page and several more items to auction off. These funds will get split fifty-fifty between I Am Hope and Will To Live.
We are so proud of the work that Kane and other New Zealanders are doing within the mental health sector. We look forward to seeing what Kane comes up with next and will continue to support mental well-being initiatives for the rural community and for our country as a whole.
As a rural community, it’s important to stay connected and find someone to talk to. If you or anyone you know is struggling, free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.