In 2012 lawyer, ultramarathon runner and UN aid worker Stephanie Case formed the Free To Run Foundation - a charity that aims to unite runners, walkers and endurance athletes in a fight against modern-day slavery and human rights oppression.
Case speaks with conviction about the organisation's aims: "Free To Run provides sports opportunities for women and girls in areas affected by conflict. We operate in some of the most difficult places on Earth because that is where we believe there is the most need and also the most potential for positive change.
"I have seen first-hand the power of sport to change lives and communities. Through our programmes, female students are getting out hiking in the mountains in Afghanistan for the first time in their lives.
"We are also helping women who have suffered domestic violence to learn to heal through yoga and boxing. And in June, we saw two Afghani women we had been training since the beginning of the year finish the 250km self-supported Gobi Desert footrace, defying all expectations and cultural norms."
In New Zealand, Colliers director Tim Lichtenstein learned about Case's work. "I came across Case's blog a couple of years ago when she was posted in Afghanistan and I recall being amazed that she was training for an ultra-marathon within the confines of a UN compound.
"When she later established Free To Run I immediately could see the value of her mission in the potential to change whole communities.
"If women and girls are provided with the means to participate in sport - something they are largely restricted from doing through gender discrimination and environmental circumstance (think training in minefields) - then through the positive emotional and physical benefits they could slowly change their communities for the better."
Lichtenstein and teammates Charles Cooper, Kim Hughes and James Spence decided to support Free To Run, and on July 26 the four - "Team NZ" - will set out to complete Racing the Planet, Ecuador - a 250km high altitude footrace through some of South America's toughest and most beautiful terrain.
For seven days the four men will traverse rugged highlands, harsh volcanic plateaus and follow an ancient Inca trail, hoping to raise funds and awareness for the charity through their efforts.
Water is provided at aid stations and they are guaranteed occupancy in a tent each night, however each participant must carry everything they need to run 30-40km per day.
Lichtenstein compares our uninhibited lifestyle in New Zealand and that of many women and girls in the communities that Free to Run operates in.
"This is a cause we absolutely believe will make grassroots changes in how some less sophisticated societies will view social advancement.
"It is one that resonates when we consider we are all free to do whatever we want to do on a daily basis - whether it's running a marathon, playing in a social rugby team with a few mates, sailing on the harbour or simply putting on a pair of trainers and taking a walk around the block.
"As Kiwis we take access to sport for granted and we know the benefits we enjoy as a consequence, but many will never have the opportunities we enjoy by right."
Case is grateful for the support of Team NZ, and feels positively about the role men play in breaking taboos about gender repression.
"Having Team NZ support our work is important for a number of reasons.
"First, they are helping us spread the word about our organisation; second, they are spreading awareness about the need to support sports for women and girls, and it is incredibly important to have this message come from not just women themselves, but also men; and third, the financial support helps us strengthen our programmes and deepen our impact.
"We are a small organisation, so the money they are able to raise will make a tangible difference."
Team NZ are grateful to the support they have had from friends and family, as Lichtenstein says: "We couldn't do it without their understanding and support.
"Training is hard to fit around family and professional lives but we just get on and do it."
The men have a good awareness of the challenges awaiting them in Ecuador, yet approach their July mission with quiet confidence.
"We have a healthy respect for the challenges ahead, accept our individual limitations and are prepared to overcome these through sheer single-mindedness. Within reason, anyone can run this far with a bit of training and preparation.
"It's amazing what the human body can endure. By far and away the most difficult challenge is psychological - it takes an extraordinary amount of mental strength to keep going when the body is screaming to stop.
"This is also the benefit of the team factor - we all have highs and lows but usually at different times so we rely on each other to carry the momentum, to encourage and support the one who is suffering."
"There is no 'team leader', we all share the responsibility of ensuring the whole team makes it to the finish.
"This philosophy applies in the training and build-up phase as much as it does during the event.
"We joke, laugh and even cry together but at the end of the day there is always one person at any given time who will have the mental fortitude to resurrect our focus and energy when we need it - the power of four!"
Case would like to see others follow in the footsteps of Team NZ.
"We are always looking to engage more people, athletes and non-athletes alike, in supporting our work. We are putting together an athlete support programme for runners or climbers who are interested in doing an event on our behalf.
"For the non-athletes, we are interested in creative ideas to help us raise awareness and funds, from social events to blogs to local initiatives that we can tie back to our programmes.
"I'd love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved with Free To Run."
Lichtenstein sums up the team's philosophy: "This is a personal journey about conquering mountains.
"It's about comradeship and adventure. It's about setting a challenge that seems inconceivable at first, then setting out to prove that it can be possible. 'If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you' is one of our favourite sayings."
Cahill Cup, 62km, 18km and 12km - Timaru
Cyclocross National Championships - Waiora Scout Camp, Silverstream Valley, Dunedin
Wilkinson Trophy Race - Kaipara Flats, Warkworth
Maddy's Marathon, Relay and Kids' Race - Orewa, Auckland
XTERRA Auckland Trail Run/Walk - Waiuku Forest, Auckland
Saturday July 25
Beavertown BadBoy, 32km flatwater paddle - Blenheim
Matakana X Run Obstacle Challenge, 6km and 65 obstacles - Matakana
Great Forest Rogaine, 3hr/6hr foot or mtb - Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua
Kaiwara Rogaine, 3hr/6hr - Culverden, Canterbury
Sunday July 26
Karioi Challenge, 43km and 57km - Raglan
Zombie Apocalypse, 5km off-road obstacle course - Montecillo Park, Dunedin
Icebreaker Midwinter Paddle, SUP, kayak or waka - Whangamata
Karioi Challenge, 44km off-road, teams or individuals - Raglan
Racing the Planet - Ecuador
• What: 250km seven-day foot race
• When: Sunday, July 26
• Where: Ecuador, South America
• To make a donation to Team NZ: http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/running-250km-to-empower-women-and-girls-through-sport/336652
• For more information: http://freetorunfoundation.org/ http://www.4deserts.com/beyond/ecuador/