Paeroa man to run Auckland Marathon in gumboots to raise money for charities

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Jack Keeys is training up for the Auckland Marathon. Photo credit: Facebook / Jack Keeys

For most people, running a marathon in normal shoes is difficult enough. But Paeroa man Jack Keeys is planning on hitting the tarmac in gumboots for the Auckland Marathon later this year.

The 25-year-old is raising money for charity, with all proceeds going to Melanoma New Zealand and the Rural Support Trust.

Keeys says both causes are dear to his heart.

Working in the agriculture sector, Keeys says he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by rural communities and farmers and wants to do his bit to help them out.

And having lost his own father to melanoma when Keeys was 12, as well as having a close call after being diagnosed with the cancer himself last year, contributing to Melanoma New Zealand was also an easy choice.

While there was no doubt he wanted to raise money for a good cause, the gumboot idea was a little less obvious.

"I was wanting to support the charities and knew that just running the marathon normally wasn't quite exciting enough, so I had the thought of doing it in gumboots to make it a bit more of a challenge and raise some awareness," Keeys told Newshub.

Donations can be made through his Givealittle page, with the total amount to be split 50/50 between the two charities.

So far more than $600 has been pledged, and Keeys says his challenge is "starting to build a bit of momentum".

"There's been a lot of people really supportive. I didn't really expect it to be a big thing initially."

With less than two months to go before the marathon, Keeys says training is going "pretty well" though there have been "some ups and downs".

"I've gone through two pairs of gumboots already. The gumboots don't hack the road running that well."

Jack Keeys says he's already been through two pairs of gumboots. Photo credit: Supplied

Finding suitable gumboots is a balance, he says.

"You either wear gumboots that are too tight and then you don't have any issues with blisters because they don't rub but then you can get bruising in your toes, or if they are slightly bigger you end up with blisters.

"The feet have definitely been through a bit of turmoil so far."

As well as seeking donations from individuals, Keeys says he will put the logo of any corporate sponsors who donate $500 or more on his race day shirt.

Andrea Newland, chief executive of Melanoma New Zealand, said it was "truly epic" what Keeys was doing.

"By sharing his story, Jack is helping raise awareness that melanoma is reasonably common in your mid-20s and 30s, so it's vital to be vigilant when outside, cover up, wear sunscreen, and make sure you get regular skin checks, as it could save your life."

Her gratitude was echoed by Neil Bateup, chair of the Rural Support Trust National Council.

"It's really cool when these young guys get in and do something for our Trusts, as it helps get the word out that we have Rural Support Trusts around the country here to help look after all our rural people," Bateup said.

"Sometimes it's harder for younger guys to pick up the phone and ask for help, and we want them to know that we are just a phone call or email away."