Running: Napier runner out to change the world

By Peter Thornton

Psychologist running 20 marathons in 20 months to raise money for charity

Warren Bernard said a video on a friend's Facebook page about LIV Village really hit home for him as a father.
Warren Bernard said a video on a friend's Facebook page about LIV Village really hit home for him as a father.

One down, 19 to go. Warren Bernard, a clinical psychologist from Napier, is hoping to change the world one step at a time, quite literally.

He is planning on running 20 marathons in 20 months around New Zealand to fundraise for LIV Village - a charity in Africa that rescues and cares for vulnerable children.

The 31-year-old was inspired to take on the challenge when he saw a video of LIV village on a friend's Facebook page "I think being a dad, it really hit home," he said.

"They say becoming a dad changes how you see the world. I guess this was an unexpected example of that. I instantly felt I needed to help in some way and I really enjoy running, so the idea was born."

We caught up with Bernard who has a long way to run but he is up for the challenge as he doesn't lack in motivation.


What has inspired you to run for LIV Village - explain the connection you have there? I don't have any direct link to LIV Village, but was just really inspired by what they are doing over there. My wife and I were both born in South Africa. Our children were born here in New Zealand and we have recently been granted NZ citizenship. We feel blessed to be able to raise our family in this beautiful country and the hope is that by supporting LIV Village we can bless others. How awesome would it be for the LIV Village kids to know that people halfway around the world care and support them?

We have it pretty good here in NZ, our kids grow up in a safe environment. Yes. These kids have had it tough and they didn't choose this life. The folks that run the LIV village are doing a great job of showing them that there are people that do love and care for them. They are turning scars into stars. The more people show their support, the more love these kids will feel.

How far through this challenge are you and when do you hope to finish? The Westcoaster was marathon number one so it was a great feeling to complete that one. There is a long way to go but we plan to finish with running the epic 89km Comrades Marathon in South Africa, and a visit to LIV Village, in June 2015.

How much have you trained for this? I went into the first marathon a little underdone. I have managed to keep my fitness up by running three to four times a week, with a long run on the weekends. The plan is that each marathon will be the long training run for the next marathon.

What is your running background? I'm not the fastest runner, pretty much middle-of-the-pack. I run because I enjoy it. I ran my first marathon in 2010 at Rotorua and have run three marathons and two ultra-marathons since. My biggest running achievement was finishing the 89km Comrades Marathon, the world's oldest ultra-marathon, in 2012.

How will you manage your body and injuries throughout the 20 months? Rest days will be important. Visits to the podiatrist and physio will be on the cards as the months progress. Asics NZ have kindly sponsored my running gear for the duration of this project, so I'll be running in comfort. There are no excuses.

It will be a hugely challenging time, what do you expect the hardest part of running 20 marathons in 20 months will be? Funnily enough, I don't think the hardest part will be the running. The logistics of each event, organising transport and accommodation over the 20 months will be the challenge. Twenty months is a long time, and I have only been able to plan a couple months ahead, as lots of marathons have yet to set dates.

How much are you hoping to fundraise and what difference will that make to LIV? As much as I can but any amount would make a difference for these kids. To put it in perspective one house at LIV village would cost $19,000 to build, and would be a home for five kids and one foster mother.

It is going to be hard but a lot of fun along the way - what are you most looking forward to in this? This is a great excuse to get around New Zealand and I hope to meet many like-minded people along the way and hopefully the family will get to come along to as many of the events as possible.

What advice do you have for people looking to take on a big challenge like this and do something special for other people? Your mind will be quick to tell you all the reasons not to do something. Don't be limited by these thoughts. The fact is that when you stand for a cause, live for something bigger than yourself - that is when you truly flourish.

Anything else you'd like to add about this journey? I would like to invite others to join me in raising awareness for LIV Village. Your sponsorships, donations and encouragement will help make this project a success. Any runners wanting to join me can contact me at wbpsychology@gmail.com.

- NZ Herald

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