Diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 15, I spent most of my teenage years in and out of hospital. Staying mobile required crutches at age 23 but this ended with the help of a full hip replacement at 25.
It was not to be the end of the crouches with an infection taking hold and I lost my hip at age 27, left strapped to a hospital bed in traction with no hip for two months, this was an all time low for me!
After 5 hip operations I was back up and running but Arthritis had not finished with me yet... A total shoulder replacement was required at age 29, when was this end, was every joint in my body going to be replaced by artificial bits?
Fortunately not so far!
Today I'm 43 and still live with Arthritis, I manage it on a daily basis and have found that I'm limited in the ability to walk any reasonable distance, one hour walking is no problem, two hours not so good but three hours I'm bed ridden and struggle for days after. Tramping trips was not an option for me but yet I love the outdoors and only wished I could get out there and do it.
This is where I discovered mountain biking, I can ride for ten hours then get up the next day and do it all again! Now I can go on the wilderness adventures I use to dream about.
For years I've followed a life time local hero, world adventure racing champion Nathan Faavae, he runs, paddles, bikes, rafts non stop for days on end with little to no sleep over 500+km, he's arguably the best at it in the world and during his races I often imagined myself running alongside of him. I made a pact with myself that if there was ever a MTB race over a similar distance that would test myself to the limits that Nathan would experience in his races.
Well here I am entering a multi staged mountain bike race of epic proportions, it's a 7 day race from Christchurch to Queenstown, mostly off road and although unlike Nathan I get to sleep at nights it's recognised as the hardest MTB race New Zealand has to offer.
Over the 7 days I will ride 549km and climb a total of 15,824 meters in altitude, keep in mind that Everest is 8,848 meters so this will be no easy feat.
I wish to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation while doing this epic race, I have huge respect for the work they do and the support the've given me when times where hard.
When I woke up with Arthritis at age 15 I thought I was the only person in the world to have this crippling disease, today there is 1,000 people under the age of 18 struggling with Arthritis in New Zealand, I say let's help the foundation help these people in need!