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Brooke Thomas - Running with a heart condition. Completing Te Araroa Trail, NZ (3000km) in 57 days!

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Earlier this year, On January 22, Brooke Thomas an ultra runner and nurse, finished running the 3,000km Te Araroa Trail. Which starts at Cape Regina in the North Island and runs through to Buff, which is the bottom of the South Island.

Brooke started her journey (supported) on November 26, 2020 and ran for 57 days, 12 hours, breaking the Te Araroa women’s route record by almost nine days!

During this episodes Brooke shares more about her love of running and why she wanted to take on this challenge, she shares the high points; running 100km in one day and finishing the challenge. To reflecting back on when she ending up in hospital and not knowing if she would be able to carry on. We talk about the logistics and the physical and mental preparation. Brooke also shares more about her heart condition and how having a pacemaker/defibrillator installed has impacted on her life and running.

Brooke was raising money for Heart Kids, a nonprofit organisation in New Zealand that supports children living with heart defects.

Brooke in her own words:

“At age 22 I was diagnosed with a heart condition and became the recipient of an inserted cardiac pacemaker/defibrillator. Being told you have a long term condition at that age, I reckon it's probably pretty normal to go through the journey of feeling hard done by, asking 'why me', then eventually learning to accept and embrace it.

One of my favourite quotes is that "it's not the throw, but the catch". You can't always choose what life might chuck at you, but you decide how to receive it, and what to do next.

Being a nurse and witnessing the enormous challenges some patients go through has also definitely helped me to stay grounded when it comes to my own condition, and 100% inspired me to keep pushing my own boundaries.

I guess the best thing I've learned through my own experiences is that you never know how long you're going to get in life to do all the things you want to do. We've just got to make the most of what we’ve got and embrace any opportunity you get while you can.

For me, anything that both scares me and makes me question myself is definitely something I want to try!”

“Running the length of a country is without doubt the toughest challenge I have ever undertaken before. Yet some how all the moments of struggle, exhaustion, frustration and disbelief in myself are so quickly forgotten in comparison to the excitement, raw happiness and gratitude that I have experienced throughout this journey.” - Brooke Thomas

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Listen to Brooke Now!

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Show notes

  • Who is Brooke

  • Not thinking of herself as an athlete

  • Going running with her dad when she was younger

  • Living in Queenstown

  • Coming from a close family

  • Having a twin sister

  • Her running journey

  • Being into rowing at a competitive level

  • Using running as an outlet

  • Training 2x a day for rowing

  • Quitting rowing due to a heart condition

  • Having a pace maker fitted to help her heart beat

  • What her pace maker does

  • Not being able to compete in the world championships

  • Fundraising for Heart Kids

  • The transition period from professional athlete to having a pace maker fitted

  • Finding your own limits

  • Building back her confidence with running

  • Deciding to run the full length of New Zealand

  • Being inspired by Mina Holder and Lucy Clark

  • Meeting her running coach - Adam Keen

  • The planning and preparation for the trip

  • Wanting to start the trail in November

  • Getting 2 months off work

  • Thinking about the record

  • Wanting to proof something to herself

  • Feeling the pressure from being behind schedule

  • Feeling like a failure every day

  • The magical moments while on the trail

  • Mental preparation

  • Dealing with the challenging sections and moments

  • Fuelling her body!

  • Getting into flow while running

  • The beauty of trail running and community

  • Dealing with the challenging river crossings

  • Dealing with food care

  • Documenting her journey in order to get the FKT (Fastest Known Time)

  • Wearing a Coros watch

  • The finish line..

  • The final 100K - a nice round number

  • The biggest lesson learned from running the TA

  • The power of believing in yourself

  • Thinking about the worst case scenario

  • Getting back to work straight away

  • Follow Brooke and donate to Heart Kids - links down below.


Social Media

Instagram - @brooke_bt_thomas

Charity donation link

Brooks Running Coach - Aerobicedge Coaching

Listen to Mina Holder on the Tough Girl Podcast


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