A Kerikeri firefighter hopes to set a world record by being the first person to run a half marathon while wearing a full firefighting kit and breathing from a tank.

Simon Trye, an Air Force firefighter in Whenuapai who also volunteers with the Kerikeri Fire Brigade, is also aiming to raise $5000 for children's charity KidsCan.

Trye came up with the idea during the lockdown.

He was reflecting on how good his life was and how lucky he was to have a stable job, while many New Zealanders were being laid off and facing tough times.

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''I was trying to think of ways I could help and watching videos on YouTube — there's only so much mowing lawns and walking around the block you can do in lockdown — when I came across a firefighter in the US whose father, also a firefighter, died in the line of duty,'' Trye said.

''He wanted to raise money for a foundation that supports firefighters so, in his madness, he decided to run a half marathon in full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus.''

Firefighter Simon Trye. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Firefighter Simon Trye. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The feat had not been attempted before so the American applied to Guinness World Records which set him a time of 3 hours 30 minutes to claim the initial record.

He raised about US$5000 but he missed out on a record by six minutes.

''So I sat down and did the maths on how fast I'd have to travel, and worked out it would be hard going but might be doable.''

Trye registered for the Auckland Marathon on November 1, contacted Guinness World Records, and started training.

The 39-year-old with two teenage kids tries to run every day, either near his home in Riverview, Kerikeri, or at Whenuapai. One cylinder gives him enough air to get around the block twice.

Trye got some funny looks when he started training during lockdown.

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''People thought I was taking the Covid thing a bit seriously, or there was something going on they needed to know about.''

Now he gets toots and waves thanks to his wife's social media campaign letting neighbours know what he's up to.

Firefighter Simon Trye of Kerikeri hopes to set a world record by being the first person to run a half marathon in full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Firefighter Simon Trye of Kerikeri hopes to set a world record by being the first person to run a half marathon in full firefighting kit and breathing apparatus. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Running in full firefighting kit is no picnic, Trye said.

''It's like going for a run in a sleeping bag while breathing through a straw. It's very hot and there's no respite, no way to cool off. You just stay hot.''

He had opted to raise money for KidsCan, an Auckland Marathon charity partner which provides warm meals in schools, footwear, jackets, and other essentials.

Trye passed his initial $1000 target in the first few days, so he bumped it up to $3000. He has now passed that too so has set his sights on $5000.

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''It's been quite humbling, how many people have given and how much they've given. It puts a bit of pressure on me but that's good.''

With more than three months of training to go Trye is confident of finishing under the 3 hr 30 min limit. He will be supported by an Air Force fire crew helping him change cylinders every 4km.

Trye was an army driver for 11 years before joining the Fire Service and working as a professional firefighter in South Auckland for eight years. He then joined the Air Force and moved to Kerikeri six years ago. He commutes to Auckland weekly for work.

■ Go to aucklandmarathon2020.everydayhero.com/nz/simon-trye if you want to support Trye's fundraising efforts.