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James and Mal

Home / The Challenge / The Men

May 2017
May 2017

Our friendship is one based on the shared love of trail running, mountains and Pinot Noir!

James Harcombe

About James:

I will be 52 years old when we start our run.

I was raised on the side of a mountain in the Welsh Valleys. Actually, the very one on which a tragic Hugh Grant movie was based! As long as I can remember, I've had a passion for going up hills - by foot, bike or skis. My love of running began on the track in school, but quickly evolved into cross-country and fell running. Currently my interest lies in Trail Ultra Running, though I'm happy to race anywhere from 1 to 100 miles!

After spending two years trekking and cycling in wild places around the globe, I found myself in Queenstown, New Zealand, fell in love with the surrounding area and decided not to leave! I have now been here 20 years, and consider it home. I have two amazing teenage children, Elysia and Gareth, who, thankfully, share my passion for the great outdoors, and the most amazing supportive wife, Sue (Thanks Cariad!).

When not out in the hills having fun, I work as a Vineyard Manager for Mondillo Wines. An active, hands on role, it helps with my endurance and puts the occasional bottle of plonk on the table!

Having lost 4 friends and family members to suicide, I was an easy recruit for Mal's High Five-0 Challenge. I am determined to build on the work we've done so far supporting the Mental Health Foundation in New Zealand, and to start helping Mind in the U.K. I believe that both charities do outstanding work raising awareness of Mental Health issues, and in providing resources to help people in need. My vision is to see the money that we raise used to promote the connection between activity in the great outdoors and mental wellbeing (both charities having recently launched initiatives that promote this).

For Chasing the Dragon, I am particularly excited about getting on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, as it's a path that I've wanted to walk since the age of 15! I'm also looking forward to sharing a few Brains Bitter's along the way with Mal and our support crew! Fears? Mostly what the weather might throw at us! Though really, how bad can it be?!

Mal Law

About Mal

I will be 57 years old when we start our run.

I was raised in rather less film-worthy environs than James – Merseyside suburbia. But having a father who loved hill walking, especially in Scotland, distilled in me a love of mountains and wild places. It’s a love affair that really flourished after I moved to New Zealand in 1987 and started exploring my new country, either with a heavy pack on my back or my bum on the saddle of a mountain bike.

My wanderlust took me all over New Zealand in search of new adventures and eventually led me to endurance sports, principally multisport, which was the focus of my non-working life for a decade from my mid-30’s to mid-40’s. My obsession with long-distance running was kick-started when I became the first person to run 7 NZ Great Walks in 7 days back in 2009. This was also my first foray into ‘adventures with a cause’ and the project raised $85,000 for the Leukaemia & Blood Foundation. Since then I have also completed:

  • another 7in7 Challenge (2010) raising $176,000 for LBF
  • the UK’s South West Coast Path (2012) – 1,014kms in a then record 17 days – raising $22,000 for the Mental Health Foundation
  • the Partners Life High Five-0 Challenge (2015), raising $520,000 for the Mental Health Foundation

I am married to a wonderful, and very understanding, woman – Sally – and have a talented 18-year old son, Beinn. When not running in the mountains I make my living from writing, filmmaking and public speaking. Sally & I also run a fledgling trail running business called Running Wild.

I have first hand experience of depression and the sometimes tragic consequences of mental illness. I also know that time spent being active in the outdoors is a great way to look after one’s mental wellbeing, and it is for these reasons that I love to use my passion to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation, who do such great work fostering mental wellbeing.

Like James, I am looking forward to the Pembrokeshire part of our run as this is where my parents had their honeymoon in 1950! Another highlight will be climbing over Moel Famau on the northern part of the Offa’s Dyke Path as this is the hill that we used to climb every Christmas morning as a family when I was growing up. The last time I stood on its summit was in 1977. Oh, and finishing with the Brecon Beacons will be a great climax to our adventure too.

You can read more about me at



We will be raising funds for mental health charities on both sides of the world: the Mental Health Foundation in New Zealand and Mind in the UK.

Follow our preparations & the challenge:
Get involved and help us support these great charities:
Mind for better Mental Health Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
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