Reading about how the Missing Wingman Trust helped a family who had struggled after a stillborn birth was the catalyst for Sergeant Ryan Turei to want to raise money for the Air Force charity, by running a 100km Ultramarathon.
My wife and I have two children but we had a miscarriage earlier on and it hit us pretty hard. When we did have our son I realised I was responsible for this little person and I have to do the right thing by him and hopefully he will turn out to be a good person.”
That realisation led the Security Forces specialist on a journey to seek extreme challenges and culminated in him completing the Aumangea programme, run by the Army Command School.
It taught him how to overcome adversity, a skill he wanted to teach his children. Not content to leave it, Sergeant (SGT) Turei took up Ultramarathon running to continue the practice of “leaning into pain and suffering”.
“I chose that sport mostly because it was cheap, all I needed were shoes and time. I discovered it kept me engaged with the feeling that I had cultivated on the programme, which was working through a problem and fighting the will to quit.”
In February SGT Turei read an article in Air Force News about the creation of the Missing Wingman Trust by Wing Commander Tim Costley, which “hit close to home”.
“I didn’t know that much about the Trust before that. When I read the piece about the Leading Aircraftman who had a stillborn and couldn’t afford a headstone, that gutted me.
The Taupō Ultramarathon is being held on October 10 and SGT Turei hopes to raise enough to support an Air Force family in their time of need.
“Hopefully it raises enough money to pay for things like medical expenses, household repairs and scholarships.”
SGT Turei is grateful for the support of his wife, who is a logistics officer in the Air Force.
“Both our children are under three- years-old and they require a lot of time. Some mornings I get up at 3am to run before work so I can be home to help with the kids. On the weekends, depending on my training programme I will run anywhere from two and a half hours to six hours and she supports me through all that.
“I couldn’t do it without my family and I understand the cost and sacrifice from them — it’s all time away from them.”
SGT Turei’s next challenge is a 160km ultramarathon in Tarawera next February. He hopes to raise money for the Cancer Foundation.
“My father has recently battled cancer and is in remission, and my aunt and a close friend of the family recently died from pancreatic cancer. So that’s close to my heart.”