How did you get involved with New Zealand Red Cross?

30 years ago, on a school trip to Madrid, I had an accident where I suffered severe burns on my arms and legs. I was taken to a hospital where the local Red Cross Society provided me with first aid. The Red Cross helped rush me back to my home country – France – for further medical assistance. They were so kind and reassuring. I’ve never forgotten this kindness, nor the accident, and thus began my fitness journey (with a difference).

Why did you decide to run 100 marathons?

My first marathon was in 2008, in Christchurch, and while I didn’t have any time in mind, I was very happy to finish in under four hours! I decided to put a target on my running and a charity behind it. The natural choice was Red Cross. 

I planned to run 100 marathons, ending with the Marathon de Paris in 2020. I aimed to raise $26,200 based on the 26.2 miles of a marathon. For a few years I ran 10-12 marathons annually. My aim was to raise awareness about the great things that New Zealand Red Cross was doing, but also about maintaining good health and being involved in the community. 

In 2018, during a trip to France, I decided to run the Marathon de Paris ahead of schedule. I’m so happy I did! I wouldn’t have been able to last year because of COVID-19. 

I ran my 100th marathon in the same city it all started – Christchurch. It was so special to share this event with all my Kiwi friends and, in particular, my two daughters who both ran half marathons on the day to support me!

Olivier running in the Saraha desert the Marathon des Sables.

What part of Red Cross do you admire the most?

With no hesitation, the part I admire the most is the level of kindness from everyone working or volunteering. Regardless of where you’re from, your gender, your ethnicity, they provide vital emotional and practical support in our communities.

What’s your best fundraising tip?

Challenge yourself before you challenge others to give you a donation. THINK BIG! Draft a fundraising plan with a specific target and timeframe. Share your plan with family and friends. They will be the first ones to encourage you and offer their support to reach your target. Don't worry if you don’t smash it the first time. Experiment! You can try to set up a fundraising page, organise a private dinner party, run a special movie screening, share your fundraising story to local companies and encourage them to donate, ask your local pub to organise a quiz night… Just try your best. Good luck!

Olivier with his whānau after completing his 100th marathon in Christchurch.