Running event attracts a variety of people to the challenge of pain and some stunning scenery on Auckland's rugged west coast.

A world of different reasons inspire athletes to take on the Speight's West Coaster next weekend in Auckland.

Take Brenda Pearce, for example. The 30-year-old from New Plymouth has just returned to New Zealand after doing volunteer work in Nepal as an English teacher, while also spending some time trekking in the mountains.

"My fiance and I needed a goal or challenge to help us get in shape for our upcoming wedding - so here goes," said the dietitian. "Bring on the 30km of pain and amazing views."

Waitakere's Kris Murray is taking on the 13km challenge after seeing his boss lose the ability to run.


"My boss broke his back two years ago and since then I have viewed life as a gift," he said.

Albany's Helen Milmine is using the 13km walk to rekindle her love of tramping. "I used to do tramping before having children," said the 49-year-old.

"I also had a knee bone graft and will be 50 in March, so I needed a starting challenge to build up my fitness."

Orewa's Martin East, who is running the 13km in the 40-49 age division, is easing back into running after a spinal injury a year ago.

"I would like to get motivated again and this seems like the ultimate challenge. I used to run half-marathons but I am now building up again very slowly."

Te Aroha's Chris Barnett was working in the United States and had trained to compete in the Chicago Marathon, but decided to move home after his wife became pregnant. He has entered the 21km half-marathon.

"I am doing this to make use of marathon training ... it should be good fun."

About 600 athletes are heading to Bethells Beach for the trail running and walking event that is as brutal as it is beautiful.

The event is in its sixth year and the reputation of the run as a "must do" event on the calendar is growing by word of mouth.

It also helps that there is a distance to accommodate all levels of fitness, adventure and enthusiasm. For those looking for the ultimate challenge, the marathon will make an honest man, woman or team out of you.

There is also 30km, 21.1km and a 13km, and a 6km for individuals.

For Pearce, being home with her fiance, Gary, on in his first trip toNew Zealand and running at a place like the west coast of Auckland is like heaven.

"I love being back by the sea again," said Pearce, who is running the 30km with her cousin while her fiance, from Hungary, will be doing the full marathon and raising money for the charity Lifeline.

"We are hoping that it's a fabulously sunny day, not too hot or windy, so that we have the fantastic views that will probably be along the coast. We're both just looking to enjoy the run and finish in one piece."

It has all been a bit of a whirlwind for the couple since they got engaged at Mt Everest Base Camp.

"We trekked there from our village where we were staying in Chulyamu - it was a pretty spectacular place to receive a proposal of marriage."

They will get married in New Plymouth in February and then again in Hungary in August. They love to run together.

"We moved up to Auckland in July and started looking for a challenge to get fit once again, and so Gary could see more of New Zealand," said Pearce. "I've always entered events that are a little out of the ordinary.

"In our training we have either run along Tamaki Drive by the sea or around Cornwall Park. We encourage each other and enjoy the time together."

As they say, the couple that runs together stays together.

Next weekend there will be plenty diverse stories of inspiration to share at the end of the West Coaster on the beach over a couple of Speight's.

The Coaster
When: Saturday, November 24

Where: Bethells Beach, Auckland

Event options:

42.2km solo/team event; 30km run; 21.1km run/walk; 13km run/walk; 6km run/walk

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