'Run For Their Lives' Runners arrive in Auckland
Runners arrive in Auckland
Keep an eye on the roads as a group of runners arrives in Auckland today (November 21)on their journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff to raise awareness and cash for communities devastated by AIDS. The runners hope to reach Takapuna by 3pm today.
University of Auckland sports science student Geoff Cooper is leading the team of fellow students on the gruelling Run for their Lives relay run.
"We're going to complete this run no matter what, because the issue is so important and so urgent," Geoff says.
They left Cape Reinga on November 18 and expect to reach Bluff on December 5, covering a distance of 2,100km at a rate of 15km per student per day. On World AIDS Day, December 1, the group will be in Christchurch.
The students, with support of World Vision, will be speaking to schools and other groups as they pass through the country's towns, spreading the message that we all need to help the communities in developing countries that have been devastated by HIV/AIDS.
Tonight the group will attend a celebratory event and will spend two nights in Auckland. They set off for Hamilton on Sunday November 23.
Geoff says New Zealand may have escaped the AIDS epidemic so far, but warns that should not lead to a false sense of security as the disease has shifted from Africa into Asia and is now reaching alarming levels in the Pacific.
AIDS has killed 22 million people worldwide - more than the Black Death in the Middle Ages. About 8,000 people die every day and the world is struggling to look after 14 million AIDS orphans.
Geoff hopes the relay run will encourage New Zealanders to help people in developing countries.
"It's so easy to sit back and do nothing but hopefully this run will inspire other people to think they could do something like this as well," Geoff says.
Fuelled by Weet-Bix and Just Juice, and by meals cooked by World Vision volunteers along the way, the students are confident they will finish the relay on time.
World Vision CEO Helen Green says she is impressed with the young peoples' determination and dedication.
"They approached us with the idea, and they've been determined to achieve this marathon effort. It will have a huge impact on other young people in New Zealand and will hopefully help people understand and empathise with the 43 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world," she says.