Andrew McCrory training

Runners, to those who would only ever run to catch a bus, are a crazy breed, and Andrew McCrory takes the cup for the craziest of them all.

He’s certifiably nuts and happy enough to prove it. Long distance running, in his vocabulary, is not a piddly 40kms. It’s more than 100kms, and he will be doing more than twice that in 48 hours in the baddest, meanest, will-likely-collapse, footrace, and pinnacle of ultramarathon running – Badwater 135.

The Badwater 135 is globally recognized as the world’s toughest footrace; it is based in Death Valley, California, USA.

Why tackle it? 

It’s an easy answer for him – to fundraise for children with Cerebral Palsy to get Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery in America and help with the intensive rehabilitation once they return home.

Over the years, through his running, McCrory has raised around $90,000 for the kids, as well as I AM HOPE and NZ RSA Poppy Fund.

“The kids I raise money for need this surgery to help them move better and reduce spasticity in the hope that they will walk one day.”

McCrory will start fundraising again for Badwater 135 and you can donate to his Givealittle page ‘Running Badwater 135 for kids with cerebral palsy’. Get in behind this folks!

The race is in July this year.

“I applied to the Badwater 135 as it is globally recognised as the world’s toughest footrace and is the pinnacle of ultra-marathon running,” he told BayBuzz.

“It pushes the hardest men and women in the world to their limits and I want to compete with those legends and push myself in one of the harshest places on Earth to prove I have what it takes.”

Hastings resident McCrory, 49, is employed by Eastern Institute of Technology as a tutor helping people to enter the NZ Defence Force or Police.

He also works part-time at Peak Fitness and Health as a Personal Trainer and serves in the Army Reserve in Napier.

He spent 14 years in the Regular Force Army as a vehicle mechanic and spent 10 years farming as well.

He’s been running for five years and started after recovering from a spine injury which resulted in two surgeries.

“My drive to run started with reading a book by David Goggins back in 2019. I had recently recovered from back surgery in 2018 and after reading David Goggins book, I decided that I would run 100 miles,” he said.

“To keep me focused I decided I would run for a charity. Whilst I was off work with a severely herniated disc in my back, I discovered a young girl from Hawke’s Bay, Liv Fountain, on Facebook with Cerebral Palsy who was raising money for surgery in America.

“I helped her out by organising the local Crossfit Gyms to fundraise for her. I decided I would fundraise for more children with Cerebral Palsy to help them achieve their dream of being able to walk. The kids and their families that I have helped keep me focused and give me that drive to keep pushing and run the crazy distances that I do.”

Liv Fountain centre with Ethan Reid Faith

And to run the “crazy distances” he does requires training. Lots of it.

He has been working towards running the Badwater 135 since he started ultra-running five years ago.

He has completed many ultras including five runs over 100 miles and the Northburn 100 in March 2023.

He has also run the length of New Zealand being 2060km over Christmas and New Year’s 2021/22.

After being selected to compete at the 2024 Badwater 135, he will be undertaking the race in July and will be taking his fundraising global and helping many more New Zealand children to achieve their dream of being able to walk.

“I’m guessing I would have run close to 400km this year already and that number is increasing steadily as training ramps up,” he said.

“It depends on where I am at with my training and what day of the week it is as to how many kilometres I do, but I’ll be averaging around 100kms per week soon enough.”

And what’s McCrory’s plan after conquering Badwater 135?

“I have no idea what I’ll do after Badwater, but one thing is for sure – I won’t stop running and raising money for the kids as the surgery and rehab is funded solely by the families with no government funding,” he said.

“I’m thinking I’ll go back to the Karangahake Gorge tunnel and run for 48 hours aiming for 200 miles.”

Cause, why not.

As for the Badwater 135 …

Runners start at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California, which is 85m below sea level, the lowest point in North America and finish at the Whitney Portal which is 2530m above sea level.

There is a total of 4500m elevation across the 135 mile/217km course which must be completed in 48 hours and is all on road.

All of this is done while running in extreme temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius.

The Badwater 135 is and always has been an invitational race. Applicants are considered purely upon their race application and its specific written merits.

They are then selected to run in July of that year via a live Facebook announcement. There is a strict entry criterion which involves running at least four ultra-running races of 100 continuous miles or longer, with one of them being between January 1, 2023, and the day of submitting the application.

There is only one preferred qualifying race in New Zealand and that is the Northburn 100 in Cromwell.

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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