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Running is often touted as a means of improving one's sense of physical wellbeing - but for a number of Kiwis it's become a way of giving back. The Auckland ASB Marathon gets under way at 6am on Sunday with more than 13,000 expected to take part - of these more than 1000 are doing it for one of almost 30 charities. Those that stand to benefit, include the Mental Health Foundation, Child Cancer Foundation, the Cancer Society and the Starship Foundation. So far more than $800,000 dollars has been raised by philanthropic runners - just shy of the $1.5m raised in 2014 - but with two days still to go there's still time for this year's group to catch up. Corazon Miller talks to three of those hitting the pavement for a good cause.


Melissa Redshaw, 35, is running the half marathon for Mercy Hospice, the organisation that gave her family much needed support in her father's dying days. She hopes to raise at least $1500. When the Auckland accountant got the call her father had died she was still in Vancouver Airport's departure lounge. "It was the worst journey of my life," Melissa Redshaw said of the June 2014 flight home. Just three months earlier her father, Tony Redshaw, discovered his melanoma had returned to "riddle" his body with tumours. Initially Melissa Redshaw thought he'd suffered a stroke when her father returned after a holiday around the South Island and his left arm stopped working. "I was talking to mum and she was saying; 'your dad is having trouble with his arm' "I so clearly remember him shouting out in the background; 'don't worry the poor girl'." But Redshaw said the loss of function in his arm was the first sign of the cancer that would cause his health to quickly go downhill and his whole body to shut down. "From being so fit and healthy and within a matter of three months he was a shadow of his former self. "We just couldn't reconcile with what had happened."
"It's always the bit at the Harbour Bridge where you start running out of energy and the body starts to hurt. "I'm doing this in honour of him and know that he'll give me the strength to carry on."
Despite her father, who had just turned 70, telling her not to come home just for him, Redshaw returned to be by his side for a couple of weeks. Unable to stay in Auckland indefinitely, Redshaw returned to Vancouver where she'd been living for a few years and ran her first half-marathon. "It was really hard. What do you do?" she said of her decision to leave her father. "I had quite a demanding job over there, so I went back to Vancouver and ran the half-marathon in honour of him. "It was not even 10 days later that he actually passed," she said. "I was at Vancouver airport when I got the call." Redshaw said her father's final few days were spent at Mercy Hospice in Auckland - a difficult time, made just that little bit easier by the staff's "invaluable support". "Nothing was too much trouble; they were always there to listen in our time of need, not only during his time at Mercy, but afterwards as well." Following her father's death, Redshaw made the decision to move back home to Auckland and be closer to her family, including her mother and older brother. This weekend's half-marathon is her seventh, but Redshaw said running for Mercy Hospice and her Dad made it a "real special" one. "It's always the bit at the Harbour Bridge where you start running out of energy and the body starts to hurt," she said. "I'm doing this in honour of him and know that he'll give me the strength to carry on." To support Melissa Redshaw's run go here


Kylie Frost, 42, is running 12km for Arthritis New Zealand. Despite living with an incurable, rare form of arthritis, the Auckland mother is training through the pain and limited mobility it causes, to keep her body moving. She hopes to raise $1000 and help raise awareness of her condition. The mere feat of making her bed can make one Auckland woman with a rare form of arthritis so tired she needs a nap - but she's not letting it stop her running 12km as part of this weekend's marathon events. Kylie Frost, 42, has ankylosing spondylitis, a type of spinal arthritis which causes chronic fatigue, pain, inflammation and over time, fusion in certain joints. Frost was only formally diagnosed 18 months ago but believed she'd been exhibiting symptoms since her teenage years. Frost said the condition had been tough to diagnose as it could often be dismissed as stress-related or as over-exertion. "The first time I couldn't stand up straight, they told me I pulled a muscle and it took about three days to settle down." When she was finally diagnosed with the incurable condition Frost said there were mixed feelings. "There's a sense of relief to be diagnosed, but then it dawns on you they can't cure it, it's only going to get worse." But despite years of struggling with limited mobility and fatigue, Frost was determined not to let it stop her from running for Arthritis New Zealand. She hoped the money would help the charity in its research and raise awareness around the various forms of the disease. "I'd always wanted to do one and figured; hey I might not get a chance in the future, so I wasn't going to let it stop me living my life. "There's not a lot they can do for my condition, but the best thing for it is to actually keep moving."
"There's a sense of relief to be diagnosed, but then it dawns on you they can't cure it, it's only going to get worse."
So Frost embarked on her goal of running 12k in the marathon, beginning training with swimming sessions before building up to longer walks and runs. While she's suffered some setback in her training regime, having been admitted to hospital last week due to an infection, Frost was optimistic she'd complete 12km - even if she had to walk part of the way. "It's a constant battle to prove if you rally, it's still possible to achieve." To support Kylie Frost's run go here


Helen Clarkson, 50, is running the 12k from Smales Farm to Victoria Park for the Breast Cancer Foundation. The mother-of-two, who has had three breast cancer scares, hopes to raise $400 to give back to the foundation supporting others on their cancer journey. One Auckland woman is thanking her lucky stars she didn't put off indefinitely her first mammogram - a check-up that likely stopped her cancer from progressing and saved her life. When she turned 45, Helen Clarkson put off the routine screening for about three months. But the mother-of-two said it was fortunate she didn't keep making excuses not to get her breasts checked. "I call myself a lucky, unlucky," she said. "I got diagnosed at my first mammogram at 45; I had to have a lumpectomy and radiation." Clarkson said her close call was a good reminder to other women of the importance of getting their breasts checked. She was running for the Breast Cancer Foundation and hoped to help it continue educating women about the risks and signs of the disease and enable it to continue supporting those struggling with the disease. "It's just about making sure people do go and get themselves checked." Since her first scare Clarkson has had two other breast cancer scares - one led to her having her right breast completely removed, followed by another which saw a lumpectomy done on her left. The 50-year-old said she'd been in the clear for about a year now. Despite the ups and downs she's faced over the past five years, Clarkson said she never let it get her down.
"I call myself a lucky, unlucky,"
"I'm a positive person," she said. "The scariest one was the first one, by the time you get to the second and third you get a bit resigned." However, Clarkson said she was worried for her boys - particularly given her own mother had died of cancer at a young age. "They assumed cancer was not a nice outcome because of my mother, that was the hardest thing," she said. "I had to explain to them that cancer didn't always mean a bad outcome." However, Clarkson said she wouldn't have been able to rule out a negative outcome if she hadn't gotten her breasts checked early and regularly monitored in the years since. "Then you are in the system and you are checked fairly frequently." To support Helen Clarkson's run go here

ASB Marathon

Entries close at 5pm on Saturday night To enter go to Full marathon kicks off at 6am Sunday in Devonport. Parts of the Northern motorway will be closed throughout the day, from 4am through till 3pm For more details go here

Race by numbers


Volunteers on course


People will be transported by ferry


Safety pins


Road cones


Metres of barrier fencing


Litres of Powerade