Rural hero doing his first marathon in gumboots to raise money for charities

One of 14,000 people entered in Sunday’s Auckland Marathon is running in the footwear Fred Dagg couldn't do without - gumboots.

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Jack Keeys is hoping to raise money for Melanoma New Zealand and The Rural Support Trust at the Auckland Marathon. Source: Seven Sharp

Seven Sharp have seen Jack Keeys stepping it out before, during quad bike lessons alongside his new-found friend, Brian Reeve, who he struck up a friendship with after the then jobless stranger fired off a Facebook message asking for money.

But Keeys' new challenge is a little more extreme.

"I've never run a marathon before, so running my first one in gumboots, a fair few people have called me crazy, but taking gumboots to the big city sounded like a good idea."

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"I always want to set some kind of challenge so no you shouldn't be surprised.”

Days out from the marathon after "six months of training, over 1000 kms worth of running", Keeys insists 42 kms in "down on the farm" footwear is still a good idea.

"This is actually my third pair,” he admitted.

“My first pair started off a little sloppy and too big and ended up giving me blisters but then I went too small and ended up with boots that bruised the top of my toenails and ended up with 10 purple toes."

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Keeys trains with his dog Toe.

"Toe starts off really loud and boisterous for the first 5 kms running up ahead of me, and about 10k he really starts slowing down and taking short cuts, by the end of it he's just plodding behind," Keeys says.

There is of course more to Sunday's marathon than simply a personal challenge. Keeys is hoping to raise thousands of dollars for Melanoma New Zealand and the Rural Support Trust that provides mental health assistance in farming communities.

"Both charities have played quite a big part in my life," Keeys says.

"My father passed away of melanoma when I was about 11 years old and I had a melanoma scare last year.

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"The melanoma was on my back and I ended up having two surgeries, one to take out the tumour and then one to take extra margin.

"The nerves are kicking in now, really looking forward to getting to the start line and even more getting to the finish line."