Dad & son run Rotorua Marathon event in memory of 3 loved men lost

Joe Kurukaanga and his son Pokaiaua Kurukaanga will run the 10km distance at the Rotorua Marathon event together in memory of 3 loved ones lost.

Joe Kurukaanga shed a tear when he won the Rotorua Marathon $1000 ultimate fitness kick-starter/pamper pack for two people.

It’s a prize that will boost his own health journey. But training for the event will also be a balm to soothe the grief in losing three beautiful young men this year – all in heart-breaking circumstances.

“I shed a tear with my wife when I found out I won. I thought ‘this is meant to be’. It will be a journey that’s good for my physical health, and mental health too. It has been a taxing six months….,” says Joe, who is from Birkenhead, Auckland.

Joe was among 500 entries across InspiredHealthNZ Facebook and the marathon ambassador Rach’s Instagram in a collaboration with the Rotorua Marathon event. The prize includes. 2 x entries in the Rotorua Marathon event, 2X 60 minute massages at the Polynesian Spa, 2 sets of Asics shoes, 2 X Balance: Food, Health + Happiness books by Rachel Grunwell, 2 run caps and 2 event medals.

Joe says he immediately rang his son and told him he wanted to share the prize with him. His son Pokaiaua, a member of the NZ open men’s touch team, is elated.

“He told me ‘enjoy Xmas day dad… cause we start training on the 26th’!” quips Joe.

Joe is looking forward to kick-starting his health journey and losing some kilos with this prize. He and his son will run the 10km distance over the sulphur flats at Rotorua. Pokaiaua’s partner Jess and another friend Kris, have vowed to join them on race day at the event on May 2. So they are already a strong team of four.

They will all use the run to remember three loved men lost. Zae lost his life due to complications from pneumonia. While, Manning and Josh died suddenly where there were no suspicious circumstances. Joe says they almost lost another boy recently he knows too, but thank goodness he will be okay. It has been a time of “struggle” through the grief, he says, but he has tried to stay strong for the other young men in his life that he is close with in his role as a sports coach, mentor and friend.

Joe says he is still overwhelmed at the win. He’s still working out what they will do to raise awareness through their miles. But he already knows it will be around telling young people “it’s okay to feel not okay” – and to talk to someone if they feel not okay…

Meanwhile, thank you to everyone who entered the competition. There were so many deserving entries. So many were heart-felt.

Find out more about the Rotorua Marathon event HERE

Blog by Rachel Grunwell. Rotorua Marathon ambassador. Wellness Expert. Coach + Yoga Teacher. Multi-Marathoner. Health journalist and wellness columnist (Good magazine, Indulge magazine + the Herald online). Author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, which boasts 30 global experts on how to be healthier and happier + 30 nourishing recipes.

Follow Rotorua Marathon ambassador Rach on Instagram and Facebook for more Rotorua Marathon competition coming up s + health, yoga and run tips.



5 Wellbeing Tips to Radically Improve Your Run Game

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon ambassador, qualified PT/coach, yoga teacher, wellness columnist (for Good magazine, Indulge magazine and the Herald online). Rachel helps clients to uplift their health through private wellness coaching, and through the Mindful Moments retreats at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa.

Running is not the only important thing for runners. It’s not all about how many miles you pound on the pavements. There are other important factors too that can fuel your run game. Here are some tips that can help.

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5 Tips to Go from Unfit to Run-Fit + Run Shoes & Event Entry Giveaway!

Rotorua marathon pic blog

Rachel is a wellness expert & speaker, coach, wellness magazine columnist, a qualified yoga teacher, and the director of the lifestyle website

Do you feel “unfit”, but wish you were “run-fit”? I’ve been on this journey and want to help.

I’m the ambassador for NZ’s most iconic event, the Rotorua Marathon event, which is on May 4, 2019. So, I want to inspire a beginner runner to follow in my footsteps with an epic giveaway.

Read More

5 Quick Stretches For Runners – post run

rotorua marathon stretch inner leg

By Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist. Good magazine’s wellness columnist & smoothie chick. Multi-Marathoner. Qualified Yoga Teacher. Blogger. Mum. The order of importance is in reverse.

Follow InspiredHealth’s Facebook page & Instagram

(with giveaways like Fitbits, healthy food, fitness books + health wisdom).

5 Stretches For Runners – perfect for after your run

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Final Prep Tips for The Rotorua Marathon Event – from An Elite Coach

john headshot


By Rachel Grunwell

It’s less than a month to go now before the Rotorua Marathon event on May 5. So I turned to top coach John Bowden for some tips for final prep and training for all those taking part in this epic event.

John is an absolute run legend. He’s a former elite athlete himself and former teacher (Auckland Grammar by the way). He competed for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, and has been an Athletics New Zealand selector and coach. He now trains a lot of elite runners in NZ who win marathons, half-marathons and represent NZ at the Olympics. He trains Lisa Cross who won the Waterfront Half Marathon in Auckland on April 8. He also trains weekend warriors like me (bless him)! And if you didn’t think the bloke was a legend already, then you will after I tell you he is the head of Achilles NZ (a charity that helps Kiwis with disabilities to participate in run events). John will be at the Rotorua Marathon event cheering on some of his runners.

Here are some of his top tips leading up to the Rotorua Marathon event. Take note, these are gold! Better still, really listen to him. We are lucky to tap into his knowledge.

Marathon Tips by John Bowden from The Road Running Collective:

  1. Hydration
  • Despite the weather now cooling and that we are into Autumn there is a tendency not to drink as much either during your day or on your training run… DON’T STOP hydrating. So, during the day the famous 8 glasses of water per day is still a good guide to go to (or two litres)-if anything by doing this you will not be as tired by the end of the day.
  • On your training runs (usually the long ones) it pays to practice drinking what you will use on race day. You can also practice taking water at various spots on your long runs these next 4 weeks (by either having someone on the side of the road handing them out to you, or you can place them there the night before in a secret and safe place). Practice makes perfect when it comes to these four weeks of hydrating yourself…
  1. Recovery & Rest
  • This last month it might pay to concentrate on the little things that might make a difference for your performance on race day-so get some extra sleep, earlier nights, stretch a bit more and treat your self to a weekly massage perhaps.
  1. Equipment check
  • Make sure your training shoes are in good shape for the last month of training. Do not try and get through this critical time with a well worn pair of shoes. Or if you are concerned about them lasting… then change them now! 
  • If you are going to wear a different pair of shoes for the race (lighter ones usually) then practice using them on your last few long runs.
  1. Tapering and feeling good
  • Usually you begin to do less training from 14-10 days out so be careful during this time as you will start to feel better and run faster. Be in control in this phase and listen to your body and hold yourself accountable that you will train with the same intensity and pace that you have previously been doing during the past few months.
  1. Your last long run
  • This should be done about three weeks out with a moderate long run say 21km two weeks out before you begin your taper. It is better to be a little underdone than overcooked for a marathon race – so be smart.
  1. Head Smarts
  • Be confident in your self as you have done all the hard work with a month to go. Talk yourself up, be positive, be inspired by reading or watching achievements of others in any areas of life.
  • Work on your race strategy and have plans A, B and C for race day

To enter the Rotorua Marathon event click HERE

To find out more about John and his coaching click HERE

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon event ambassador, Award-winning writer, ‘Good’ magazine wellness columnist, wellness writer for Run4YourLife running magazine (in Australia and NZ), multi-marathoner (19 marathons at the last count), yoga teacher & Polynesian Spa ambassador (co-leading health retreats in Rotorua).


See other inspiring stories, recipes and go in the draw for health-inspired giveaways by following Rachel via InspiredHealthNZ’s Facebook and Instagram

This blog was kindly sponsored by the peeps behind the Rotorua Marathon event #sponsoredcontent




Elite Runner at Rotorua Marathon will be running in her parents footsteps

olivia burne

Elite Runner at Rotorua Marathon will be running in her parents footsteps


By Rachel Grunwell

An elite female runner doing her first ever marathon at the Rotorua Marathon event is a potential front-runner who could take out the winning title.

When Olivia Burne, 26, runs in the May 5 event, she will also be following in her parent’s footsteps. And she’s gunning for a podium spot too like her dad…

Olivia, who is an ASICS brand ambassador and works in marketing and communications in Auckland, won the half-marathon distance at the Rotorua Marathon event last year with a time of just over 1hr 16mins.

She decided to run her first marathon at Rotorua this year for many reasons.

Her parents success at this event was, of course, an inspiration.

“My parents have both run the Rotorua Marathon in their early 20s. “My mum completed the full marathon distance in 1981, recording 3:19 – that was one week before she married Dad. My Dad ran the full marathon five years in a row, with his top finish being a 2nd in 1979. His time was 2:25.35 – I’m not looking to break that record any time soon!” she says.

Burne says her running parents have been really encouraging of her running career and great support.

Asked if her parents have high expectations of her potential finish time, Burne quips, “I think Mum would be quite happy for me to beat her time and I think Dad would just be impressed if I beat his!”

She says she also chose the Rotorua Marathon event too as her first marathon because of the wonderful history of the event and because it is known as one of the highlights of the racing calendar.

“It’s also a beautiful setting. The cultural significance of Rotorua… the beautiful lake, the Redwood Forest, and the (Polynesian Spa’s) thermal hot pools make the whole running and recovery experience really special,” she says.

She also adds: “The race has an enormous history in New Zealand. Most runners from the 60s onwards would know the Rotorua Marathon (or Fletchers Marathon, as it used to be known) as one of the highlights of the racing calendar. Thousands would show up for the event and it attracts some of the best runners in the country. “

Burne says she is training hard for the event by doing lots of hills and miles out in West Auckland.

“I work in Hillsborough, Auckland – a suburb that’s aptly named,” she jokes.

She is training around the hilly and challenging Waiatarua course as much as possible. She too is clocking some high mileage (150km plus per week under her coach, Barry Magee.

Burne says she is looking forward to the marathon challenge and taking on a challenging course.

Her dream in the future is to be able to go onto the Olympic Games in the marathon distance in the future.

She has completed three years to date of racing the half-marathon distance.

Join Olivia and many others! Enter the Rotorua Marathon event too – there’s a distance for everyone. CLICK HERE

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon event ambassador, Award-winning writer, ‘Good’ magazine wellness columnist, multi-marathoner, yoga teacher & Polynesian Spa ambassador (co-leading health retreats).


See other inspiring stories, recipes and go in the draw for health-inspired giveaways by following Rachel via InspiredHealthNZ’s Facebook and Instagram

This blog was kindly sponsored by the peeps behind the Rotorua Marathon event #sponsoredcontent

9 Top Recovery Run Tips + Choc Chia Recipe

rotorua marathon blog march 2018

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon ambassador, multi-marathoner, qualified yoga teacher, magazine wellness columnist, magazine recipe creator & Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa ambassador

Follow Rachel via InspiredHealthNZ’s Instagram and Facebook 

9 Top Recovery Run Tips  + Choc Chia Recipe

It’s not long now until the Rotorua Marathon event on May 5 and so training is hitting its highest gear. The long runs are longer and it’s an increasingly longer time on the feet for walkers too. So, use some great recovery methods is incredibly key right now. You want to be using everything you can in order to arrive at the start-line injury-free and ready to do your best on race day!


rotorua marathon blog 3 2018


Here are 9 Top Recovery Tips: I use all these tips and they’ve helped me conquer 19 marathons. So I swear by them!

  1. * Make friends with a foam roller. These are seriously amazing for “ironing” out niggles ie making those tight muscles less oucheeeee. Use a roller for a few minutes on areas like your calves, IT bands, thighs, shins and quads. It’s even lovely to roll your back over a foam roller – it’s an amazing self-massage tool. There are other self-massage tools on the market too like stick rollers and other weird-shaped (torture) tools! Find the tender spots and roll them with LOVE. Your body will thank you for this, I promise.
  2. * Eat ideally within 30-mins roughly after a long training run or walk to help boost muscle recovery.
  3. * Some sports physios and massage therapists are increasingly training in needling. This can target really deep tissue hotspots if you need to iron out niggles that are really deep and you can’t seem to shake. If you are not afraid of needles, then I’d recommend trying this treatment. It doesn’t hurt a bit, I reckon. 
  4. * Get a professional sports massage. I can’t rate these high enough. These experts are worth their weight in gold. They can target any tiny issues you might have and give you amazing advice too. Plus you get to chat away to them and they have to listen ha ha ha ha. Or is that just me who loves to talk, talk, talk lol.
  5. * Sleep like a prince or princess. This affects your physical and emotional health. So, it affects how you recover from training runs and how well you feel while running (or walking). Feel more alert and power your performance with more shut-eye… This is also FREE, of course. Bonus! If you get to bed by midnight, this is most ideal (it’s to do with cortisol levels ok babe…)
  6. * Drop the habit of drinking so much alcohol. This can disturb your sleep patterns and can stop you from going into REM – the very rejuvenating sleep.
  7. * Try some gentle yoga classes or at least take several minutes to do some static stretching after running or walking to reset your body. This will help you to move well. For some of my fave run stretches that I use often and highly recommend CLICK HERE.
  8. * Go for a recovery swim. If you are in Rotorua, then I’d recommend the Blue Lake, Lake Tarawera or Lake Okareka. Better still, indulge in the rejuvenating hot pools at the Polynesian Spa. Bliss!
  9. * Make a pact with yourself to eat more nutritionally-rich kai. Smart eating will help you think better, feel better and perform better. So, add spinach to your scrambled eggs or swig back a home-made juice (so you know what is in it). Here’s an amazing beetroot juice recipe CLICK HERE. Or here’s a Choc Chia Pudding to try below which is full of chia seeds which boast Omega 3 alphalinolenic acid. This is good for your brain, building new cells, and heart-health. Chia seeds are great for satiety too ie filling you up! This also tastes amazing and you can eat it anytime for a snack. Hopefully this will stop you from reaching for chocolate instead!


rotorua marathon blog 2 2018

Post Run Choc Chia Pudding


1 banana (skin removed)

2 cups almond milk

½ cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon rice malt syrup (or you can use maple syrup instead)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cacao powder

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

3 tablespoons Chia seeds (back or white)


Put all the ingredients (except the chia seeds) into a blender and blitz until smooth. Lastly, add the chia seeds and stir these in with a spoon. Pour into pudding bowls, or I put them into small glasses. Leave them to set in the fridge for 30-minutes or longer. Use a spoon to dig out the mixture and enjoy!

Rachel's Blog Award-winning writer & recipe creator, magazine columnist, wellness ambassador, yoga teacher & multi-marathoner.



Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon run ambassador, wellness blogger & magazine columnist, yoga teacher and Polynesian Spa ambassador. Follow her via InspiredHealthNZ’s Instagram and Facebook 

To enter the Rotorua Marathon event or find out more Click Here

This post was sponsored by the awesome peeps who “run” the Rotorua Marathon event. #collab #officialblogger #runambassador 

TV1 Presenter Gives the Low-Down on Fitness Progress

Greg & Rach after run

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon run ambassador, wellness blogger & magazine columnist, yoga teacher and director of InspiredHealth, which inspires Kiwis to live healthy and happy.

TV1 Presenter Gives the Low-Down on Fitness Progress
“It feels great to get back into training”.
So says TV1 presenter Greg Boyed.
He has agreed to take on the challenge to get fit for the Rotorua Marathon event on May 5 this year. I caught up with Boyed for a training run in the Waitakere Ranges to ask how he is getting on with his run programme.
He is at the beginning of his get-fit journey. He took a break from running for a while to focus on his family (including his young son). He was also kept busy with home handyman tinkering after he and his gorgeous wife bought a new house. Well, it’s an old house, but new to them. So it’s new but it’s old, but it’s old but it’s new to them… you get the picture chuckle.
Boyed got his training programme from coach John Bowden about six weeks ago. Bowden trains elite athletes (who are training for all kind of distances up to the Olympics). Bowden also trains weekend warriors like Boyed and I who are out there for personal bests and to keep fit. Boyed says he has been keeping up with his training programme, ticking off a few runs weekly. The heat hasn’t helped, but he has soldiered along.
“A lot of where I run has hills. It’s a fairly high proportion. It’s not easy, but I’m slowly making progress,” he says. “I’m actually starting to enjoy it. I’m now looking forward to the runs and I’m getting them done.”
I asked Boyed about his motivation levels currently? The beginning of a fitness journey can often be tough – for anyone.
His reply:
“What’s motivating me is not wanting to let myself – or anyone else down – at the event,” he says.
“Actually, the fear of failure is motivating me!” he quips.
Boyed and I caught up for a 10km training run out in West Auckland and he ran well. Maybe that was because I was doing all the talking! Note to self: Let the other runner talk…
We both agree it’s great to have a goal in mind like the Rotorua Marathon event to motivate fitness levels. We give the thumbs up to anyone else who takes on the challenge!
greg and rach thumbs up
If you want to join us at the event and aim for this same goal check out the Rotorua Marathon page. Click HERE. Distance options include: 5.5km fun run, quarter-marathon, 21km and full marathon.
Meanwhile, cheer on Boyed and his awesome kick-off to his fitness journey. It’s not always easy juggling family, work and fitness. So I reckon he deserves a virtual high-five.
* Go in the draw to win a pamper package for two worth almost $800 thanks to Polynesian Spa and beauty brand Antipodes. Enter via InspiredHealth’s FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM pages!
#collab #partnership #sponsored #rotoruamarathon2018 

Rotorua Marathon Real Runner revealed!

rotorua marathon comp logo

The winner of the Rotorua Marathon Real Runner competition has been announced!

The winner is Sam Meade, 28, from Tapawera, Nelson (she and her hubby farm sheep and beef here).  


sam cropped

Rotorua Marathon commercial and marketing manager Jo Clark says she loved Sam’s story and thought she was “very deserving of the prize”. And what a prize it is: A prize worth $4500 to get Sam run-ready for the Rotorua Marathon event on May 5, 2018.  The package includes accommodation, coaching, wellness advice (from yours truly), asics shoes, a Polynesian Spa prize and more.

Clark says it was incredibly hard to pick a winner from so many heart-felt entries (322 entries, in fact!)

Here was Sam’s entry words:

“I only started running last year, and fell in love…. at the same time both my parents passed away and so I entered a half marathon to distract me from life. It was an amazing experience, but since completing it last December I have struggled with depression/anxiety and chronic fatigue (due to emotional and physical stress, and a 2yr old ❤). I have been unable to run this year because I have been so bloody tired! This would be a great way to ease back into running which I love so much and do my second ever half marathon.”

 We asked Sam to tell us more about herself and she wrote the following:

“We have a 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter Charleigh, and two teenagers (from my husband).

“At the beginning of 2016, I started a weight loss/ fitness challenge with several friends over facebook, and so started running/ walking, eating healthy and doing strength work etc. I also got engaged, and it was coming up to my daughters 1st birthday.

“About this time, my Mother got very ill (she had been fighting breast cancer for 12 years), the cancer had made it to her brain, and she went downhill very fast and passed away within a few months. Two days later, my Dad suffered a fatal heart attack.

“I believe for a long time I was surviving on adrenaline from shock and loss, I knew I needed something to focus my energy on, and so I entered the Hanmer half marathon for Dec 2016. I downloaded the Map My Run app, and loosely followed their training program, also motivated by the facebook challenge with my mates.

“We got married in October, and I completed the half marathon in 2 hrs 18min.

“In 2017 I struggled with anxiety/depression (pre-existing), along with delayed grief. I was so tired all of the time, I could only work on the farm for a couple of hours and then I had to go and have a sleep. I struggled with my daughter, as I just had no energy to give her. I finally went to a natural health GP, and found that I had severely depleted vitamin and mineral levels from post natal depletion, adrenal fatigue, emotional stress (and possibly training hard didn’t help). I missed running but was warned not to over exert myself while trying to heal my body and mind (Also I was too bloody tired!).I am now starting to feel a lot better, I have been taking supplements etc to boost me back into shape.
I am finally ready to run again!”

Good luck Sam with your training for the Rotorua Marathon event’s half-marathon. We look forward to watching your progress and seeing you at the start-line!

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon run ambassador, passionate marathoner, yoga teacher, magazine wellness columnist and blogger. Follow Rachel via InspiredHealth’s Facebook & Instagram.

Rachel's Blog Award-winning writer & recipe creator, magazine columnist, wellness ambassador, yoga teacher & multi-marathoner.

New Year, Better You – 4 Tips on Motivation

rotorua marathon love heart with words

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist. Good Magazine columnist. Yoga teacher. Marathoner X19. Lifestyle blogger. Follow Rachel via InspiredHealth’s Facebook and Instagram.


It’s a new year and who wants to be the same?

Yeah, not me either.

It’s always great to be learning, growing and thriving. I’m not talking about perfection, rather progression.

I’m not really a New Year’s resolutions style girl; I think goals should be set and re-assessed regularly. No one should ever blindly bulldoze their way towards a goal that turns out to be the wrong elected “course” at some point along the way. It’s great to reflect on goals sometimes and change course if this serves you best.

Be attuned to the moment, always.

One of the questions I get asked regularly in my wellness work is about how to keep motivated with goals? Everyone can set goals – which is usually done at the start of a new year. But hardly anyone reaches the end desired result. Seriously, just a few percent of people are goal-crushing legends.

Here are 4 of my top tips to goal-crush and be a success:


  1. Have a solid reason “why” you want to do a goal. You can always come back to this and remind yourself on your journey. If you have no strong “why”, then there’s no real driver to work hard at the goal and you will be giving up in no time.
  2. Challenges are hard. So, get your mind-set right from the start. Suck it up, and do the hard yards. The pay-off will be worth it.
  3. Get a buddy to join you on your journey, or to at least to talk to along the way. They can be your biggest cheer-leader!
  4. Have small rewards along the way to keep you motivated and celebrate your success. I treat myself for working hard at my goals regularly (ie coffee with friends after a run, or a new piece or run-related clothing sometimes). If you only ever celebrate at the end of goals then where would the fun be in that? The end result should never be the only joyful part that you look forward to. A big factor to living a happy life is celebrating the journey, the now, this present moment. So mindfully live life with a go-get-‘em and uplifted state of mind. You got this!

10 Tips – Running From Scratch