Mother running to thank son's saviours

Elaine Webb, with two-year-old Alex, who was born at 33 weeks. She is running 720km in 51 days to raise money for the Neonatal Trust Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Elaine Webb, with two-year-old Alex, who was born at 33 weeks. She is running 720km in 51 days to raise money for the Neonatal Trust Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

To help those who helped her son when he was too small to breathe for himself, Elaine Webb is running the distance she travelled to and from the hospital to visit him.

"For me this epitomises the struggle that NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) mums go through every day - the daily grind of getting in the car, rushing to hospital and spending all day with their babies then having to go home at night, leaving them there," Mrs Webb said.

The 40-year-old is running 720km over 51 days - the time her son, Alex, spent in Auckland Hospital's neonatal unit after being born at 33 weeks.

She hopes to raise more than $1300 for the Neonatal Trust Auckland.

Now 2, Alex is small for his age and weighs only 8kg, but he is doing well. Alex is Mrs Webb's third child with her husband, Tom.

Mrs Webb, of Three Kings, said it was time she thanked those who helped both her son survive and her endure the ordeal of having a premature baby. She started running on Alex's birthday, November 30.

"I knew at some point I wanted to fundraise and now that he's a bit older and a bit better, it just seemed the right time to do it. The idea came to me as I was running," she said.

Before starting her 720km challenge, Mrs Webb was already a runner and she enjoys being fit, though she admits she's "more of a plodder than a runner".

The sheer distance and commitment of the feat will push her to her limits. At the moment she's running about 20km a day, and despite the usual chaffing and blisters and a few "niggles" with her joints, she's tracking well.

She is trying to push herself a bit further every day so she can run 51km on January 17 - the day Alex was discharged two years ago.

"I really wanted to set myself a challenge that I would really struggle with. I didn't want it to be a breeze. And this is a challenge ... "

The hardest part about having a child in the neonatal unit was being forced to leave them there and go home, she said. Mrs Webb said she wanted to replicate that struggle with her running.


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- NZ Herald

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