Alps 2 Ocean Ultra
Brent Crossan and Michael Sandri have been mates since school, with a love of the outdoors, extreme sports and good food uniting them across the decades. In 2016, Brent’s daughter Hailey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, and Brent was regularly travelling from Invercargill to Ronald McDonald House South Island, in Christchurch, where the family were staying for Hailey’s treatment. He’d often stop in to chat to Michael in Oamaru about how things were going, and there were some days that were much harder than others.
An avid adventure racer for most of his life, Michael listened to Brent throughout these visits and realised that there was, in a strange way, a synergy between his own years of sweating along trails and mountains across the world, and what Hailey was facing in Christchurch Hospital.
“I remember vividly when Hailey heard I was doing the Grand to Grand Ultra – seven days racing over 273km in the Grand Canyon. I was having a really tough time on the track and she ended up ringing me from her bed in the hospital, to give me a pep talk I will remember for the rest of my life. She didn’t think about her own situation. She basically said, ‘Don’t give up, Michael, you’ve got this. Chin up, just get on with it!’.”
Upon returning to New Zealand, Michael knew he wanted to repay what Hailey had given him – strength, courage and determination during the hard times.
The Alps 2 Ocean Ultra was his answer.
After two hard years of establishing the new ultra-stage running race from the base of Mt Cook to the shores of Oamaru, he fulfilled his promise to Hailey and the Crossans – to give back to the organisation that had supported them through their darkest hours, and helped see them through the other side.
Brent and Kara Crossan (pictured) presented the House with a $17,500 cheque from the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra Marathon Community Trust earlier this year, with the simple desire to pay
the generosity forward and sponsor Apartment 10. Michael, typically, stayed away from the camera.
“The race, and the sponsorship are all because of Hailey. She’s been so strong, a lot stronger than me, and this is such a practical way to help other families that are in the same situation as the Crossans were in 2016. I wanted to honour my word, and that’s what the Alps 2 Ocean Trust is totally committed to.”