Standing at the summit of Auckland’s Mt Eden between two elite athletes, Breakfast reporter Nadine Chalmers-Ross frowns.
“Do I have to be in Lycra next to these two?” she laughs, pointing at Black Stick Gemma Flynn and Olympic cyclist Alison Shanks.
But, as she points out, her willingness to don sportswear alongside some of New Zealand’s top athletes is for a cause too close to her heart to ignore.
Nadine, Gemma and Alison are putting their bodies – and quite possibly their pride – on the line for the ANZA challenge, a five-day race around New Zealand and a 10km run against a team of Australian celebrities and athletes, starting October 15.
“It’s the Kiwis versus the Aussies – it doesn’t get much bigger than that,” says Gemma.
“I love going up against Australia. It’s part of our national identity – and we’re definitely racing for pride!”
Gemma and Alison are gearing up for the gruelling five-day race, which is in aid of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation.
They will link up with other athletes and sporting personalities – including former All Black Marc Ellis, The Crowd Goes Wild presenter James McOnie and Olympic rower Nathan Cohen – cycling, sailing, rowing and running their way around the country.
Nadine is joining the team for the last challenge – a 10km run at Auckland Domain, where members of the public are invited to race.
“I feel like a fraud, though,” she says. “I’m not going from one end of the country to the other, by any stretch of the imagination.”
“The 10km will feel like a marathon by the time the week finishes!” replies Alison.
While she and Gemma are nervous about different aspects of the race, all Nadine is worried about is staying upright. “I’m scared about the rowing, I don’t use my upper body!” Alison grimaces, while Gemma tells Alison she’ll have to pick up the slack on the bike.
“I’m quite injury-prone, and get a lot of stick from my workmates,” Nadine says wryly, pointing out the three bones she’s broken over the last 18 months – one she hurt while putting out the recycling.
But her Breakfast colleagues – Toni Street, Rawdon Christie and Sam Wallace – might be closer to the action than they think, with Nadine planning a recruitment drive in the TVNZ newsroom.
“I’ll see if I can get Toni along, and Sam’s a pretty good sportsman and he’s always keen.
“But Rawdon’s wife is the runner in the family!”
Photos: Caren Davis • Hair & make-up: Jules Armishaw & Kate Smith • Styling: Jules Armishaw.
nadine wears lululemon. gemma wears nike. alison wears lululemon, nike
About Kelly Bertrand
“I started at the Weekly after a two-week internship in 2011, which was part of my journalism studies. Basically, I hung around and annoyed people long enough to land a job as a staff writer, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m lucky enough to get to write stories ranging from the Kardashians through to the Queen, but my real passion is telling the stories of New Zealand’s sporting stars. Sometimes I can’t quite believe it’s my job to hang out with All Blacks and Silver Ferns! I absolutely love working at the Weekly, and feel really privileged to be part of this 83-year-old Kiwi institution. I’m also fond of Instagram, coffee and animals dressed as humans!”more of this author