A committed and self-confessed “crazy” runner has clocked up a gruelling 100km – in his garden – to honour and support a children’s cancer charity…
Paul Eichert, 49, began at 06:00 on Sunday, and logged an astonishing 714 laps around his garden in his charitable “home marathon” in Somerset West.
Born in New Zealand, the “Crazy Kiwi” is a passionate runner with 17 Comrades Marathons under his belt – 10 earning him a silver medal (sub-seven hours 30 mins). The father of two is a commercial property expert. He completed his first marathon in Berlin in 1996.
“As he’s got older, he’s got faster, more determined and crazier,” said his wife and garden-side support crew member, Mel.
She told News24: “Obviously, he can’t run on the road during lockdown, so he started doing 5km runs.
“Then, one day, he told me, ‘I think I’ll just run a little bit further…'”
“I knew he was up to something,” she said.
“On Tuesday, he ran a half-marathon – 21km. On Wednesday, he ran a full marathon – 42km. And then he said, ‘I think I’ll run 100km for CHOC, on Sunday’,” Mel said.
Paul walked into his garden at 06:00 on Sunday, headed south towards the carport, and then west around to the pool. He repeated the route 713 times.
His route measures around 140m, a there-and-back U-shaped route, as one boundary is impassable.
“It’s not at all like road-running, because he’s constantly having to take sharp turns – around trees, plants, the car,” Mel explained.
“He hit a bit of a rough patch at around 55km, and said his ankles were ‘on fire’.
“But he usually runs stronger in the second half of his marathons – so he’s improving all the time,” she said, as her husband neared the 95km mark.
Throughout his run today, she supplied him with his favourite half-Coca-Cola-half-water mix, a strawberry jam sandwich, banana bread and some salted potatoes.
After around 10 hours and six minutes, Paul completed his last 140m lap, his 714th, and crossed his 100km finish line, next to a dry flowerbed. He was cheered by an adoring crowd including his wife Mel and dogs Toby, a black English cocker spaniel, Molly, an orange roan cocker spaniel, and Bella, a large crossbreed.
“The children with cancer deserve every cent”
Paul told News24: “The children with cancer deserve every cent – that’s what kept me going through the tough times today.”
“I’d like to say just one more thing: You can lock the runners up, but you can’t stop us from doing what we love. Hopefully, it inspires people just to do something, in their yard – whether it be 100m or 10km. Just get out and do it … there’s no excuse!”
His average time per kilometre was between five minutes and 15 seconds and five minutes 20 seconds.
What’s next, in the second 10 days of the lockdown?
“I think I need a drink,” he said.
The Crazy Kiwi urged the public to donate generously. A rousing cheer erupted in his home neighbourhood of Morningside, Somerset West, as neighbours watched his final steps on local WhatsApp groups and Facebook.
The amount of money Eichert raised is yet to be determined.
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