It’s challenging enough to tackle your first marathon. But to run it in gumboots and milking shed overalls?!
Nineteen-year-old Emma Blom just takes all the raised eyebrows and ‘you’re crazy’ comments in her stride. “I wanted to do something a bit different,” she says, “and also to make a difference”.
The ‘making a difference’ bit is her goal to raise $10,000 through sponsorship to enable four others involved in the primary industries to go to Outward Bound – the Anakiwa, Marlborough Sounds-based outdoors adventure and personal development programme that had such an impact in her own life.
Emma grew up on a dairy farm and then the family moved to the Marlborough Sounds. They had interests in several mussel farms and on their off-grid property accessible only by boat ran a lodge and cafe for visitors (you might have caught them in an episode of Country Calendar a year or two back). They’ve since moved to Blenheim.
Emma says she’d long yearned to go to Outward Bound.
“I had my last [school] exam on a Tuesday last December and left for Outward Bound on the Wednesday.
“I absolutely loved it. I met some amazing people. The 21-day course I was on was pretty intensive – no phone, three nights out solo in the bush, and you get to do all these crazy things.”
Outward Bound has a saying – ‘There’s more in you.’
“You’re encouraged to push yourself and your boundaries. I learned a lot more about myself,” Emma says.
“I just wanted some others involved in our food production sector to also have that experience at Outward Bound’s 8-day course. They’d bring what they learn back to farms and hopefully there would be a ripple effect.”
She’s now studying at Lincoln University, working on a dairy farm during her holidays. She remembers when the idea of a marathon in gumboots hit her.
“I was with my older brother on the farm. We have this umbilical system dealing with effluent and one person has to sit on the pumps. It’s quite a mundane job and I was just sitting there with my laptop, bored and not long returned from Outward Bound. I looked down at my gumboots….”
The Queenstown Marathon is on November 20. Emma says she always enjoyed running but 25km is her longest distance to date. She’s trying to fit in as much training as she can in between “study and uni life. You’ve still got to have a social life, don’t you?!” she laughs.
“Running in gumboots adds to the challenge. Everyone’s asking about my feet but actually it’s more my hips feeling it at the moment. I’ll just do some stretches to iron that out.”
A google search finds several other stories about young Kiwi men running marathons in gumboots, but nothing on young women. Will Emma be the first?
You can follow Emma’s journey on Instagram (@emmasgumbootmarathon) or even better consider making a pledge at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gumbootmarathon-emmablom.