After losing his Nana and Cousin in short succession in 2015, Harrison Sanders found himself in need of an outlet. An outlet that would give him a sense of purpose.
He knew the causes that he wanted to highlight and the charities he wanted to support. He just needed the anchor that would allow him to shine a light on these causes. That anchor came in the form of running. Running? Harrison hadn’t really considered himself a runner, a sports fan and avid sports player for sure, but a runner? Not so much.
So how did running spring to the top of mind as the outlet to help himself and help others?
Harrison traces it back to a fascination of watching his Dad run a marathon many years ago. While this fascination didn’t blossom into an immediate desire to run for hours on end, it must have left an imprint on him as starting in November 2020 he went from not running at all to deciding to run 2300km’s in a year in honour of his late Nana and Cousin.
7 Marathons in 7 Days
Pushed along by a motivation to support the Mental Health Foundation, Alzheimer's NZ and Epilepsy NZ, Harrison set about breaking down his seemingly huge task into a more manageable target of 43km’s per week. Despite the load being a little more than he’d recommend to someone starting out, the initial buzz of ticking off these weekly targets, only served to increase his motivation. As he got fitter, his mind became clearer, the runs became easier and he felt ready to put some crazier events on the calendar to help serve his greater purpose.
And it doesn’t get much crazier than 7 marathons in 7 consecutive days!
As a first-year school teacher he had been taken aback by the plight of some of the children he had seen and again wanted to use running as a mechanism to support a greater purpose. He decided to work with the Back2School Project to fundraise for food and gifts for underprivileged kids at Christmas. Over the course of this multi-marathon effort Harrison really learnt the power of support structures and having a greater purpose as a motivator to push through challenging times. But he knows this type of running isn’t for everyone!
One of the things he is most proud of with his running journey is that he has seen other people extend themselves and establish healthy running habits. At a recent charity event, over 15 people ran their longest ever run, and over 100 people came out to run with him. It’s a well-worn expression but Harrison takes great pride in the thought of inspiring, “just one person to put themselves in a happier, healthier place through running.” We think he’s done just that and some!
Harrison’s Top Tips for Runners
So now that we’re over two years into this running journey, what advice does he think is worth sharing?
- Forget the stigma around speed! You need to move at the speed that suits you, don’t get stuck in stats.
- Tick off small goals and enjoy the process.
- Appreciate the opportunity to disconnect and refresh mentally through running.
- Stay grateful for the chance to lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Stay hydrated :) If you're running a distance event, take on fluid at every drink station.
Morning, lunchtime, evening runner?
Favourite post-run snack / meal?
Outside of your shoes, what’s one running essential you can’t go without?
Best piece of running advice you’ve ever received?
Go slow to go fast.
Running Solo or Running in a group?
Music, Podcast, or your own thoughts? What are they?
Old school music - Fleetwood Mac, Matchbox Twenty, Jimmy Barnes
In 3 words how would you describe yourself as a runner?
Running for purpose.
Favourite running route in NZ?
Otautu Bay - Coromandel.
Running distance a week?
30-40km at the moment, when event training 50-80km.
I run because….
I’m grateful enough to be fit, healthy, and able to.
Where does your mind tend to wander while running?
All over the show, can be positive and I also try to solve the world.
What’s your #1 way of maintaining a sound mind?
Set small goals, be consistent.
Favourite ASICS shoe?
We look forward to continuing to follow along with Harrison’s running journey as he tackles more marathons and inspires his community.
You can check out Harrison’s journey at the links below:
Interested in learning more about running? Visit our Knowledge Base where you’ll find resources on an array of topics for runners - from how to get started and mapping out a training plan, to discovering how to pick the right running shoes for you.