One man’s mission to help farmers

If it weren’t for your gumboots…

Going the extra mile

There’s going the extra mile… then there’s going an extra 100km. On June 10, George Black did an extraordinary 100km run through Canterbury, from Hawarden to Hagley Park. The 12-hour run was to raise money for farmers “who are in a bad patch”. What’s more, to keep the focus on all things rural, he did it in his gumboots. Although 24-year-old George is a keen rugby player and has run a couple of marathons before, this double-marathon-length run took endurance to a whole different level, and not just because of the footwear.

He credits the overwhelming support of people along the journey with getting him through. Students from Sefton and Ashley schools turned out with signs, high-fives and a guard of honour, and sponsors Bayleys Canterbury and Rabobank cheered George on at key points in the run.

George’s Givealittle page raised an impressive $20,655, with donations coming from over 350 people.

“If it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?”

Fred Dagg said it right – you’d be in the hospital or infirmary. George is used to running round his family farm in his Redband gumboots, and they protected him pretty well, but nevertheless doing 100km in this untraditional running gear took its toll. Fortunately, Mum knew best. George initially thought he could get the entire run done in one pair of socks, but his mother “had common sense” and came prepared in the support vehicle with a stash of extras. Even so, the supporters were suitably shocked when George recovered at the finishline, beer in hand, and unpeeled his socks. Raw blisters had taken hold – so bad that it wasn’t until one month after the run that his painful right toenail came away – a key point in his recovery that George was very glad to get over and done with.

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes

George’s concern for the wellbeing of farmers is very close to his heart. He grew up working on his family farms in Waikari and Culverden – the family started with a sheep and beef farm before moving to dairy and then to grazing blocks. As well as working on the family farms until earlier this year, George also ran his own farrier business across North Canterbury, shoeing horses as a New Zealand qualified farrier. He is now putting all of this knowledge into practice as a rural real estate agent for Bayleys, based out of the Rangiora office. "I've come from a family farm and there's a few things going on at the farm at the moment, it's quite a hard time for them. Not just the weather as well, and these floods, but there's a lot of new stuff hitting them from a few different angles. Farming can be an extremely difficult job at times and the suicide rate for farmers is 1.5 times the New Zealand average, so they need all the support we can give them.”

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust

100% of the funds raised went to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust, which supports rural people and their families to get back on their feet. The Trust is linked into local rural networks and helps people facing challenging circumstances, such as financial and personal stresses, or climatic adverse events like drought, flood, or heavy snow. Services are free and confidential. The Area Reps are local rural people who have themselves faced the challenges of this life. They travel to where they are needed, to meet people one-on-one.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust Chair, Gayle Litchfield, said George was an amazing young man for championing the organisation. “To take on such a challenge is a remarkable effort. The monies raised will go a long way towards helping us provide additional wellbeing support to our farming community.”
Back to Rural Living
Learn about selling your rural property