With an impressive list of marathons to his name, one relatively new arrival to Grace Joel, Brett Murray, was excited about the opportunity to get involved with the Olympics@Ryman.
He registered for the cycling and the relay walking and even rallied the village choir to record an Olympics song in a recording studio!
“Both my wife Christine and I are very active people and we feel very fortunate because we have just arrived here at the village and Ryman is doing this!
“We had our opening ceremony here and we had all of us athletes lined up behind our flag bearer and all the residents were clapping. We went in and did a circuit around them and came back and sang the national anthem – it was great!”
Brett has a long history of incredible sporting achievements.
Originally from the South Island, he played hockey for the U21 Canterbury team and with a holiday job pruning trees for the forestry service, he saw how that physical work improved his strength and consequently his hockey.
With married life and children changing his priorities Brett took up jogging.
“I have always enjoyed jogging and that branched out into tramping and then trail running.
“That was a natural progression – wanting to be in touch with nature, running through the trees, and roads get boring.”
Brett’s sporting enthusiasm rubbed off on his son and daughter who started running as a result, with his daughter later marrying an endurance coach.
“He introduced me to the concept that I could go beyond running half marathons,” says Brett, who has owned a management training business since he was 30.
“My daughter emailed me to say we’re going to do the New York marathon and there’s no excuse! So that began the next phase of my life!”
That was 2010 and the start of 10 years of running endurance marathons all over the world with his son, daughter and son-in-law – and Christine as support crew.
Brett stood out, even to the top athletes, because of his preference for wearing Keens sandals to run in.
“I wear sandals because I have hot feet. All these elite runners were coming over and looking at me.”
It landed Brett a sponsorship with Keens and he continued wearing them to run the Inca Trail, the big five in Africa, where elephants would steal the bananas at the transit points, and even in Galapagos.
The running came to a grinding halt, however, after a life-changing event which is what prompted the move into Grace Joel.
“I had a horrendous skiing accident at Treble Cone. I had smashed ribs, the rotator cuff on my shoulder and a punctured colon from the ski pole.
“I can’t run anymore so I had to redefine myself – and I am just coming back.
“Biking is fine, walking is great and the gym is great. And getting on the back of the Olympics – what a buzz!”
Brett aced the trials – he was third in the men’s cycling finalists and took the top time in the walking trial.
Unfortunately he had to withdraw from the cycling event as he and Christine are travelling to Europe to visit their daughter, but he is pitching his hopes on today’s walk at AUT Millennium Centre.
“I feel blessed to have my health back and to be with Ryman because they’re innovative and they’re going to make this really work for us.
“It’s an example of taking a risk, doing something new to broaden your life in a retirement village, and it was so rewarding for me.”