Essendon Tuitupou and his team have a mantra that no one gets left behind. The older brother of former All Black Sam Tuitupou, who runs the popular Faith City Boot Camp in South Auckland that attracts around 150-200 participants every week, is taking a group of around 60 across to Motutapu Island next weekend to tackle the 10km run and walk of The Dual. When one of their group is among the last to cross the finish line, their teammates go back and walk with them and support them all the way home. We caught up with their 41-year-old team leader who is a community project manager, group fitness instructor (Les Mills) and a Pastor at Faith City Church in Manukau who is making a real difference among the people in his community.
How many people are you taking across with you to do The Dual?
We're taking across a group of almost 60 people, although last year we took more than 100 people. This year we've got three men each weighing more than 200kg - our heaviest person is 230kg and about 15 people in the 140kg plus category. We've also got our speedsters but our bigger team members will be pretty conspicuous because of their size.
Why do you enjoy taking a group to this event?
What makes this event special?It's a beautiful part of the country and it's a really well organised event. It's a tough 10km course that we do but it's incredibly satisfying once you finish as a team, especially for our bigger guys.
I understand that your group go back and finish the race with the rest of the people who haven't finished yet?
It's an important value that we emphasise in our programmes - that we encourage everyone, help each other finish and that no one gets left behind. It's an empowering value not just for those yet to finish but also for those who go back to support. It reflects our approach that improving the physical and social health of the community is a collective responsibility.
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That must make you pretty proud.
It's incredibly rewarding and you can tell how impacting it is by the response from participants and spectators. Some of my most cherished memories from running these community boot camps are those of the group finishing events together.
How inspiring is it to have a common goal, like The Dual, to work towards?
Events such as The Dual or half-marathons are terrific because they provide a focus for training and a challenge that many would not undertake as an individual but they feel more confident in tackling as part of a close-knit group. Once many of our people complete an event, hopefully it inspires others in their circle of friends or family to challenge themselves. For people who are initially unfit and self-conscious, there is a confidence and self-belief that comes from doing these events that benefits them long after they cross the finish line.
What advice do you offer to those looking to lose weight?
Find a group of people who are motivated and keen to train and join in - their energy will rub off on you. Also mark an event in your calendar such as The Dual, find a group of friends who are crazy enough to do it and use that as motivation to train - all the other stuff such as losing weight, getting fitter and having more energy will be positive byproducts.