Air Force Firefighter Chases World Record Half Marathon In Full Firefighting Gear In Fundraising Effort For KidsCan
Simon Trye has been turning a few heads during training for the 2020 ASB Auckland Marathon, in fact it is fair to say that during his early Lockdown laps of his local block at home in Kerikeri, he was outright scaring people as he shuffled along wearing his full firefighting gear and breathing apparatus – including full face mask.
There is a reason to his madness though and no, the RNZAF firefighter was not some highly contagious victim of COVID-19! Gradually the local community has also been put at ease as they become aware of his fund raising efforts for KidsCan as the 39-year-old looks to break a Guinness World Record for the fastest half-marathon wearing the full firefighting kit – oxygen bottle and all!
When the father of two lines up alongside thousands of others in the Barfoot & Thompson Half on November 1st, he will likely go through a whole lot more pain, suffer more along the way, and rely on the support of his RNZAF support crew to provide him with sustenance and the very air he will breathe throughout his journey, with compressed air cylinder changes every 5km.
Trye says a simple idea has grown into something much bigger.
“I wanted to run a marathon this year and Lockdown saw us all stuck at home for a while. I found myself watching a few Youtube videos and saw the story of a fireman in the States taking on a half-marathon in full level 2 gear and BA (breathing apparatus) up coming up just short of the record mark of three and a half hours.
“That got me thinking, that maybe I could potentially do something along those lines. So, I sat down and worked out the numbers per kilometre and thought it might not be too daunting. I headed to work, chucked all my gear on, and went for a couple of 5k trots and thought this could actually be achievable.”
Trye then realized he had to help others along the way, it was just something in his DNA.
“Firefighters by trade are here to help people and the community, I thought if I am going to slog for three and a half hours, why not do that and raise money for a charity I believe in? KidsCan does amazing work in the community and schools with food, warm coats, shoes and who better to help than kids.
“Previous to the Airforce I was in fire and emergency and working in South Auckland. In that work we would see firsthand the struggle that some families are having just to live week to week, mums and dads are finding it even tougher with COVID with the loss of jobs and money. Kids are having to go to school without lunches or school bags or coats, KidsCan makes a difference to many of those families.”
Trye has applied through Guinness World Records to formalize the attempt on the record and is awaiting the final paperwork to come back.
“You don’t want a record that doesn’t stand up because you haven’t used the right gear or done the right things. Through Guinness the kit has to meet a standard international requirement so there is that consistency in each attempt.
“But the more training I do the harder I know this is going to be, no one has done it before, this is a good challenge. 21k is a lot different to 5 in training. I need a team – a pit crew. Every 5k I will stop, change a cylinder, force myself to drink and eat because with the mask on I can’t do that while I am moving. I am planning on about a three minute stop each time, I will have a great team there including a medic to check on me each time.”
Trye’s world record attempt will see him carry an extra 24 kilos, made up of:
- Level two heavy leather firefighting boots
- Firefighting over trousers and jacket
- A woolen balaclava like flash hood that goes right over his head
- A helmet
- Full breathing apparatus including the compressed air cylinder and full facemask.
This is truly a team effort, with his fellow Airforce personnel at Whenuapai supporting him fully on the day in that ‘pit crew’ while wife Kelly has been the social media and marketing whizz, generating a buzz throughout the local Kerikeri community and helping the fund raising go past five thousand dollars already while his two teenage children will likely be there on the day as part of that crucial support crew.
Trye says that awareness generated by Kelly has seen reactions change to his regular training runs when back home in Kerikeri, with the local Riverview School children especially supportive.
“We have done a few local community things at home and that response has been wonderful and helped us smash our initial goal of raising three thousand dollars. It has been quite humbling bumping into people that have made donations, anything from five bucks to a couple of hundred. And that is motivating, when training gets average and I am feeling rubbish you know there are always people behind you, it is quite humbling.
“The reaction from the community to my training runs has changed too, they pretty much all know what I am up to now and instead of funny looks and staying clear, I get a few shout outs and high fives, especially from the local school kids.”
Simon’s fundraising is part of the ASB Auckland Marathon’s Charity Superstar Programme, with athletes able to support any one of the six official charities The programme has raised millions of dollars for multiple charities in recent years.
KidsCan is one of those charities and CEO Julie Chapman is in awe of Simon and everyone that is raising money on the day and says his connection with the Northland region makes his efforts more personal.
"We're in awe of the incredible lengths that Simon is going to, to raise money for KidsCan. Sadly, we're seeing a huge increase in need because of the Covid-19 pandemic. KidsCan supports children in 112 schools and early childhood centres across Northland, and our food and clothing is becoming more crucial as families struggle to make ends meet at home. We're so grateful to Simon for making a difference for them."
Simon will spend the next few months honing his training and building awareness of his record attempt to help raise further funds for KidsCan. People can donate to that cause by visiting Simon’s Everyday Hero page at http://aucklandmarathon2020.everydayhero.com/nz/simon-trye
And everyone can follow Simon’s training and progress as he takes on the World Record by visiting Facebook page @sitryesguinnessworldrecordattempt