Mary McFly, left, and her dad Bob Williams all geared up for the 125km Canadian Death Race. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

Masterton’s Mary McFly [previously Williams] was joined by her father, Bob Williams who is the caretaker at Rathkeale College, for a 125km mountain race known as the Canadian Death Race in early August.

The gruelling race in the Canadian Rocky Mountains marked the start of the 24-year-old’s fundraising for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and was preparation for the biggest run of her life.

During the summer of 2019-2020 McFly is set to run the length of New Zealand via the network of trails that wind through the islands – a trip of over 3000km.

She is planning her route and reaching out to sponsors for equipment that is needed for the long journey.

“Through this adventure, I want to break down the taboo surrounding mental health,” she said.

“It’s not always obvious when someone is having a hard time, and I really want to encourage people to speak out when they are feeling isolated.”

McFly and her father ran the 125km race to ‘complete, not compete”, while wearing NZ Mental Health Foundation t-shirts.

“The trail for the Canadian Death Race was wetter and muddier this year than ever before,” McFly said.

“There were hundreds of runners, and I lost dad pretty much immediately in the crowd but waited for him at the first check point.”

While the run went well, McFly said there were some unusual obstacles to negotiate.

“We had to keep our wits about us and keep bear calling [shouting while running so bears knew they were coming] as there were two grizzly bear mums sighted on the trail with their cubs, and they are very protective and aggressive when startled.”

Later in the race they were warned about a cougar which had been stalking a runner ahead of the pair, putting them on high alert again.

As the race moved on a run became a walk which became a “shog – a shuffle but most of all a hobble”.

The final 15 kilometres were the longest of her life, McFly said.

“Every muscle and joint from the waist down was screaming, I hadn’t slept in a whole day, and had already moved 110km.

“We were knackered.”

McFly came 5th out of 17 in her age-group and Williams came 11th out of 44.

They both crossed the line in 22hrs, 37 minutes, 59 seconds.

Overall, they came 157th and 158th out of 435 competitors.

“There wasn’t much damage done,” McFly said. “I lost half the skin from my big toe and only got one blister, dad had sore knees and a few blisters.”

For more information or to follow Mary’s journey find her on Facebook and Instagram at – Mary’s on the Run.