It's unlikely any speed records will be broken - but Charlie Tapsell's 5km run on Saturday will almost certainly be a first at the Tauranga Domain athletics track.
Charlie will attempt to run the distance in a full suit of armour modelled on an authentic medieval design - weighing about 40kg. But there is method in this madness - he is one of three members of New Zealand's Battle of the Nations team running at different locations to raise funds to get to the international historic mediaeval battles tournament in France in May. It will be the first time New Zealand has had a team at the tournament.
Charlie is the New Zealand team captain and also the Tauranga-based Northern Horde Medieval combat club captain and master of arms. The group is often seen practising at Tauranga's Memorial Park on a Sunday afternoon. Charlie has been involved in historic battles for about 16 years.
"I first saw it at an A&P show in Whangarei - they had a television with videos of battles, jousting, swords, chain mail - and I just said 'how do I start?'," he says.
"Even as a kid I was always interested in that sort of thing."
A summit to agree on the rules and format of the tournament was held in 2009 and the first Battle of the Nations event was held in 2010 in the Ukraine with four countries - the hosts, Poland, Russia and Belarus - taking part.
"A couple of years before that we started seeing videos on You Tube of crazy East Europeans whacking snot out of each other. There was some amazing footage of guys hammering each other."
There are strict rules governing the event, what can be worn and what weapons can be used.
"It's very very authentic - we have to use authentic material - basically wool or linen - and steel - you can't use things like aluminium or titanium. Even the (armour) blackening technique has to be authentic - it's a right pain."
Charlie attended a summit in France in December where he took the opportunity to check the acceptability of the five-strong team's gear.
"Initially they said no, it wasn't good enough - but we discussed it and kind of got a yes," he says.
The event is serious stuff and battles are full contact to submission - rather than in New Zealand where battles are fought using a "controlled blow" principle.
Charlie expects the run to take about 90 minutes, once he has "geared up".
He will be allowed to run or walk, but not to walk any more than one lap of the track before having to start running again.
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