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PE teacher tackles incredible 100-mile race

An incredible feat of endurance by All Saints running royalty, Junior School Physical Education teacher Ross Kingsley, has recently inspired the school community. 

The marathon expert has helped countless students and staff discover the sport of long-distance running and for the past quarter century has led the Junior School Cross Country team to victory in 27 consecutive APS Championships.

And what has encouraged generation after generation of students to follow Mr Kingsley’s admirable example?

He walks the walk, so to speak.

Recently Mr Kingsley travelled to Rotorua, Aotearoa - New Zealand to compete in the Tarawera Ultramarathon’s TUMMiler race.

With ambition that knows no bounds, Mr Kingsley tackled the gruelling 165-kilometre (100-mile) course that loops Lake Tarawera and its surrounding countryside in just 30 hours and 10 minutes – about six hours quicker than the allotted time.

Yes, you read correctly; 165km, 30 hours on foot.

To add some perspective, Mr Kingsley covered roughly the distance between All Saints and Caloundra during the event.

He ran through the day and night with only a handful of resting moments to fill the tank; no sleep.

The TUMMiler is double the length of the longest course Mr Kingsley had ever tackled prior, and he explains that not everything unfolded according to his carefully laid plan.

“Because of so much terrible weather in the area there were landslides and, right as we were flying out, the organisers had to change the course,” he says.

The second half of the amended course consisted of two identical 60km loops which presented a difficult mental challenge for Mr Kingsley.

“I had done six months’ worth of planning with my maps… then that all changed,” he reflects. “As it stood, 60km was already going to be the second longest run of my life before I found out I had to do it twice in a row after already running 40km.”

“To get to the finish line for the first loop, only for someone to tell you to go out and do it again, was absolutely brutal.”

Mr Kingsley also grappled with some unique physical stressors that are typically associated with ultra-long distance running.

“I had really bad hiccups which I carried from about the 44km mark onwards,” he says. “The medics think I may have dislodged my diaphragm, and my nose ran constantly. When I got in at the 104km mark, I just thought ‘I can’t do this’ – I didn’t know how at all I was going to get through, because I couldn’t breathe properly.”

But Mr Kingsley refused to take his eye off the prize.

When a runner finishes the TUMMiler in under 36 hours, it is tradition for them to select their own pounamu; a special pendant handcrafted from pure Aotearoa greenstone.

Photo: The TUMMiler 2023 pounamu selection 

To Maori, the pounamu is the most highly prized ornamental stone and is typically never bought for oneself.

It is instead earned, or gifted, in acknowledgement of a great achievement or close personal connection.

“I just knew I had to get one,” says Mr Kingsley. “If I couldn’t run, I would power walk.”

And that’s just what he did until he finally crossed the finish line.

“It is very hard to explain how deeply emotional it was,” he recalls.

“I had watched all the videos online to try and prepare myself, but when I came out of Redwoods for the last time I just broke out into tears. When I crossed the line, I fell on the ground and cried – afterwards I picked myself and chose my pounamu, then put it around my neck and cried some more!”

Alongside his partner Mel, next year Mr Kingsley will return to Rotorua for round two.