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NZDF team endure heatwave in charity fundraiser

A South Island-based Defence Force team has put $1,600 in the bank for child cancer in an all-day endurance event, with one team member carrying the weight of a child for 58,000 paces.

02 February, 2024

Personnel from Defence Recruiting Christchurch, 2/1 Battalion RNZIR and local Navy reserve unit HMNZS Pegasus took part in the Canterbury Crusaders’ “Long Run” campaign on 19 January, booking in as a Corporate Challenge team. Long Run’s aim was to accumulate 10,000 laps of Rugby and Malvern Parks in Christchurch from 6am to 6pm and raise $100,000 for the Child Cancer Foundation.

Senior Regional Recruiting NCO Staff Sergeant Heath ‘Patch’ Palatchie has been described as a “legend” by onlookers, walking the entire event in uniform while wearing 35kg of military pack and webbing. Kitted as he was, he admitted running was not what he had in mind for the 12-hour event. “Running is not my thing,” he said, “so I thought I’d chuck a pack on and walk.” It was filled with items ranging from a sleeping bag, digging tools, and a jet-boil for brewing up a coffee.

When interviewed by media, he said, “the more we can raise for them the better, right, they’re our future aren't they?” When asked about the pack, SSGT Palatchie said he later realised it was about the weight of a small child.

In an interview during lap 24, captured on the Crusaders website, he said he was pretty much “on autopilot” after 39,000 steps. “I’m wrecked. My feet are taped up, shoulders are killing me, and you can see the amount of gravy leaking out of me. 6pm is the finish right? So I’ll just keep trudging on until then.”

He personally carried the pack, in up to 34-degree heat, for 35 laps, but the pack went around 47 times in total. In all the team did 548 laps at one kilometre per lap, with one member of 2/1 Battalion RNZIR completing 77 laps solo.

“The organisers came up and told us it was wonderful we were doing it,” he said.

It was a great way to get out of the office, clear the head, have a bit of a blow-out with some good teamwork and physical training. The team did really well.

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SSGT Patch Palatchie during the "Long Run". Credit: Crusaders

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SSGT Palatchie clocked up over 58,000 steps for child cancer.

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The NZDF "Long Run" team.

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SSGT Palatchie says he was amazed at the fitness of some of the children taking part. “They were six, nine, eleven years old and completing half and whole marathons.” He says a number of them chatted to him throughout the journey.

One of those was Ari Marino, who ran with his team mates from Christchurch Football Club’s U9 Sharks to raise money as a team.

His mother, Tina Mahony, said SSGT Palatchie certainly stood out on the day. “He was a legend all day. We were just in awe of his determination. You can tell him Ari and the kids thought he was the best thing ever. Very inspiring for a younger generation.”

Her own ‘legend’, Ari, did more than a full marathon in distance. He and his Sharks team mates raised $6,100, she said. “They were a determined little bunch as well.”

Crusaders Communications and Media Manager Jack Fletcher said the community ran 19,136 laps and raised more than $125,000, “Huge mahi from the 1,784 registered participants,” he said.