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.

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