Rachel White: Theatre Coordinator and Everest Marathon Runner

Rachel and her husband

Balancing a demanding career with extreme athletic pursuits, Rachel White epitomises dedication and resilience. As the Theatre Coordinator at Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital in Queenstown, and a seasoned marathon runner, Rachel has consistently pushed her limits both professionally and personally. Her latest achievement, completing the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon as the only female representative from New Zealand, highlights her exceptional spirit and determination.

On May 29, 2024, Rachel White achieved an extraordinary feat as the only female representing New Zealand to complete the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon. This gruelling event, held annually to commemorate the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953, by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, saw 174 participants cross the finish line this year.

The journey to the marathon was a monumental challenge in itself. Rachel, alongside her husband and a team of six from the UK and Australia, embarked on a 75.5km hike from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. Over nine days, they ascended from 2,860 meters to 5,356 meters above sea level, battling the high altitude and rough terrain. They spent two nights camping at Base Camp before the marathon began.

At 7:00 AM on May 29, Rachel and her fellow runners stood at the starting line on the edge of the Khumbu Glacier. The marathon route led them through the high Sherpa trails and suspension bridges of the Khumbu valley, all while dodging yaks and porters. Despite her extensive experience in long-distance running, including a seven-day stage race and several ultra-distance events across New Zealand, Rachel described this marathon as the hardest event she had ever undertaken. Running at such high altitudes, where the oxygen level is only about 50% of that at sea level, posed an immense challenge.


The 2024 Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon

Rachel’s love for long-distance trail running began seven years ago when she joined a local running group to meet new people. Since then, she has never looked back. Her running journey has taught her invaluable lessons: perseverance, self-belief, and the importance of a supportive community. These principles extend into her professional life as the Theatre Coordinator at Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital in Queenstown, a position she has held since March 2024. Rachel previously worked as a Clinical Resource Nurse at Southern Cross Brightside Hospital in Auckland for nearly six years.

The skills Rachel has honed through running, such as focus, resilience, and the ability to thrive under pressure, are mirrored in her work environment. She believes that the challenges faced in long-distance running are akin to those in the high-pressure, fast-paced world of operating theatres.

Looking ahead, Rachel is preparing for the Southern Lakes Ultra in February 2025. This seven-day event covers approximately 250km, traversing valleys, climbing mountains, crossing rivers, and passing through historic gold mining towns in Central Otago. Participants carry all their essential gear, including food, clothing, and emergency kits, for the duration of the race, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the challenge.

Rachel White’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, community, and the relentless pursuit of personal and professional excellence.