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Cancer battles inspire cyclist

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

James Marsh is using his family’s battles with cancer as motivation to complete one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world.

The Masterton cyclist will compete in The Munga race in South Africa, a notoriously tough 1090km five-day ride from Bloemfontein to the Cape Winelands.

It is almost the equivalent of biking from Auckland to Christchurch, but over extremely challenging terrain.

He was using the challenge as a chance to fundraise for an issue that was close to his heart.

“I’ve got a fundraising page on a website called Everyday Hero and am looking to raise some money for the Cancer Society Wairarapa. We’ve just hit the $1000-mark last week.”

Mr Marsh said he was inspired by the way the Cancer Society had helped his family deal with their personal challenges.

“Mum and dad have both had cancer scares in the last few years.

“When dad was getting treatment in Wellington I had the chance to go with him one day to spend the day with him and got a bit of an understanding for what the Cancer Society did, and it’s a pretty worthwhile cause.”

He had been considering competing in The Munga for a couple of years, he said.

“It’s a bit random really – I saw the photos which looked pretty amazing and I thought it’s a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so why not?

“I thought I could do this ride and try and raise some funds for charity at the same time.”

A varied training programme had ensured that there was never a lack of motivation to put in the hard work.

“I’ve engaged a coach and he’s put me on a structured training programme, and most weekends involve at least one big bike ride.

“During the week I have gym sessions and short, sharp intensity rides as well as hot yoga – it just means that you’re not spending every waking hour on the bike which is good.”

The Munga was on a different scale to any other event he had completed, he said.

“One of the biggest ones I’ve done was a few years ago, which was two laps of Taupo and was around 320km.

“Then in training for this there was a 12-hour event down in Christchurch and I clocked up about 215km.”

Mr Marsh will leave for South Africa on November 25, with the race starting five days later.

Anyone wishing to contribute to James’ cause can go to the everydayhero website.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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