Illness forces television star out of charity run

By Michele McPherson

Running close to a marathon each day for a week has been no mean feat for the boys on the Many Miles For Mary team, which pounded the asphalt through Tauranga yesterday, raising money for Ronald McDonald House.
Led by Jamie Milne, the team - which also includes Shortland Street star Ido Drent (Daniel Potts) - left Wellington on Sunday bound for Ronald McDonald House in Auckland, which provides accommodation for the families of young patients in the Starship children's hospital.
Tauranga became a special pit stop for the runners who were reunited with Drent at McDonald's Restaurant after a viral infection forced him out of the race on day two.
After going home to recover, Drent was waiting on Cameron Rd for teammate Andrew (Flea) Koolen, who began the first 20km leg for the day five kilometres south of Te Puke.
Having started running at 6am, Mr Koolen arrived at McDonald's shortly before 9.
"I've got the cold one (leg of the run) every single day so I get the pitch black for the first hour and then the sunrise, which is beautiful," he said.
The 40-year-old was in good spirits and due to begin his second 20km for the day near Cambridge at 2pm.
"It's phenomenal what the body can do and what the mind can do if you give into it," he said.
Mr Koolen said losing Drent had been a "harsh blow" both as a runner and as a drawcard for support for the charity event.
Before the event he said the team members had mentally prepared themselves to run 30km each a day, but replacing Mr Drent had not been an option.


"If one of us couldn't make it the three of us would continue and finish it," he said.
After four months training for the event Mr Drent was philosophical about being forced to pull out. "It's about the whole journey. It's not about just finishing the event," he said.
Known for his support of World Vision, the actor took four weeks off to take part in Many Miles for Mary. While he said the event was a good physical challenge having a public profile also meant a level of responsibility.
"Because I've been blessed with a bit of a profile I need to use it to help those around me. I know it can be taken away from me tomorrow. It's about using my profile to do something lasting."
For him success was about fulfilling his passion, rather than seeking fame. "I love performing. I'd do it in a theatre in Te Puke if I had to. For me it's about the art and the craft of acting. As soon as it becomes about being famous you've missed the point," he said.
At 10am yesterday Mr Milne, who has organised the event in memory of his grandmother, Mary, for the past three years, returned to the exact spot Mr Koolen had stopped at, ready to run over the Kaimai Range.
"The footstep that I have stopped is the footstep we have started again," Mr Koolen said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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