[Team Opus] Inia Raumati, Emergency Doctor, Ultra Marathon Runner, All Round Great Guy

Name: Inia Raumati

Age: 48

Hometown: Urenui, Taranaki

Currently Reside: Auckland

Profession/Sport: Emergency doctor / Ultramarathons 

Nō Taranaki ahau 
Ko Taranaki te Maunga 
Ko Tokomaru me Takitimu ngā waka 
Ko Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Kahungunu ōku iwi 
Ko Kai Tangata te hapu 
Ko Te Ruapekepeka Te Urinui (Urenui) te marae 
Ko Tikitūterangi rāua ko Wilma Raumati ōku mātua 
Ko Inia Raumati ahau 


E kore e pau, he ika unahi nui 

Kia ora Inia, ka rawe, thanks for sharing your pepeha. Can you give us a quick overview of what you’re all about? 

I’m currently working as a senior medical officer in Auckland City Hospital’s emergency department. On the work front I’m interested in trauma and prehospital medicine. I used to volunteer on the Westpac rescue helicopter and have also been an army doctor in Iraq – prehospital medicine is what bridges the gap between the outdoors and the supportive care once you arrive in the hospital. So it combines my love for the outdoors (running and hunting) and it involves working with limited resources and being able to think and act on your feet.

In the hospital I’m passionate about Māori health and advocacy for patient and staff welfare. I’m one of only a small number of Māori doctors in emergency medicine and it’d be great to have more, to better reflect the makeup of our patients.

You followed in the footsteps of one of your tīpuna for some time unknowingly. Can you tell us about that?

I was talked into applying for medical school after graduating with a physiotherapy degree from Otago, by my dad. At the time I had no idea why he was so keen for me to study medicine, and it was only during the process of applying (I got turned down 3 times) that I found out why. The first Māori doctors in New Zealand all trace back to Urenui and Ngāti Mutunga. Sir Māui Pōmare, the first Māori doctor who trained in the USA, Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck) who was the first to graduate from Otago, and Dr Tony Ruakere who was influential in getting me into medical school in Auckland on my 3rd attempt. Without Dr Ruakere I would have quit after getting turned down for a second time. 

Aue! That’s pretty special mate! On those rare occasions you get a break from mahi .. what are you up to?

Outside of work, my sport of choice is trail running. I like the multi-day stuff because I find that being a stubborn old bastard that trucks on consistently –without being fast – means that I move up the ranks as the days go by. I also get to run in some pretty awesome places around the world.

I’ve also recently taken up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a form of cross-training for running. It’s a steep learning curve, trying to avoid being turned into a human pretzel.

What got you into running? What makes it important to you? 

I used to run a lot at school and actually wasn’t too bad as a young kid until I discovered rugby, which then took over as my main focus of training for many years. I used to run at school to blow off steam and keep myself out of trouble. I didn’t really get back into running until I had a couple of accidents. At the time I was pretty heavy and figured out losing weight would help so I started walking then slowly running and increasing the distances. I discovered a book called ‘Ultra marathon man, confessions of an all night runner’, by Dean Karnazes. Did my first off road marathon and was considering an ultra, when the Christchurch earthquakes hit, the next thing I know my dad had told the local church that I was running raising money for Christchurch, and I was stuck. So dad had a hand getting me into ultras and used to enjoy coming to events with me as the world’s worst support crew. Normally he would just eat all the other runner's food and forget my stuff.

Classic! What are some of the most memorable locations your running has taken you? 

Most memorable Mix of the races I did where my dad would come along: Tarawera, Naesby, Blue Mountains Australia; I also enjoyed the international races in the 4 Deserts series (most recently Finland); a couple standouts include: ⁃ Running across the salt flats in Atacama, where the terrain was so hostile it made you feel like a cowboy in one of those old westerns, where your horse is dead, you have no water and you’re just waiting for the vultures to start circling. ⁃ Running in Antarctica after traveling via boat through the Drake Passage— from Ushuaia in Argentina, and some of the roughest seas in the world, most of which I spent confined to my bunk trying not to throw up as the ship swayed through a 30° axis. Passing through Neptune’s Bellows of Deception Island to race past an abandoned whaling station in the Caldera of an old Antarctic volcano and having to insert a heat pack into a glove and shove it down the front of my pants to literally stop my nuts from freezing. 

Unreal! You’ve got to be passionate about running to commit to a lot of those races!? Some of it must have been super challenging! 

The reason I’m so passionate about ultra-running is that it helps me to switch off. As an emergency doctor you answer hundreds of questions every shift and are constantly making important decisions about patient care. Running long distances in environmentally challenging conditions where work couldn’t even contact me if they wanted, helps the medical side of my brain switch off. It becomes a nice simple routine of: eat, poop, run, eat, sleep, repeat. The more physically challenging an event is, the more I love it, especially if the weather sucks. Which is where having good quality lightweight gear becomes essential.

That segways perfectly into our next question. When you're heading out on these hearty outdoor missions .. What can you not leave without?

I find myself always picking up my Opus Fresh tees on runs. I’ve had the black tee with the crossed ice axes for years. It still looks and feels great.

More often than not I’m always in a merino top and have a buff or neck warmer with me. I always plan for possible adverse contingencies. Good quality lightweight clothing is non-negotiable. Quite often I start a run with the neck warmer on my face or around my neck when it’s cold, then as I start to warm up it goes around my wrist to wipe off the sweat. Merino has the advantage of keeping you warm or cool, regardless of how rough the weather gets, and not smelling like a dog’s ass after a week of constant wear.

Merino sure is hard to fault! What's on the cards for the future? 

I will be heading away for the ‘Beyond the Ultimate’s ‘Ice Ultra’ in Sweden at the end of the month. Yet again completely undertrained because of work and slightly injured from running last year. I will be doing 230kms over five stages in the snow and ice of Swedish Lapland with daytime and evening temperatures as low as -5 to -10 degrees Celsius, sleeping in teepee tents and huts, and carrying all my own gear including food. In 2024 I am planning to run eight self-supported multistage races on eight continents (Zealandia is now a continent) and hopefully be the first person in the world to do so. More details to come! 

Any advice for novice runners?

It’s important to have fun and run because you want to, not because you think you have to. If you can find a group of like-minded individuals, start planning adventures to stop things getting stale. Ideally build up distances slowly and don’t neglect the gym and strength work. If you want to train for an ultra, find a race you find interesting and enter. Unless you are injured on race day, show up and run. You'll be surprised what your body can do when you ignore its complaints! If you can run 10km comfortably, you can run 100km, you might just not enjoy it. 

Any superpower. What one would you pick?

Whatever my dog Doug (@dougdogjaspercat) has! He never seems to tire out and is always keen for a run. He almost doubles the distance I run as he will run ahead of me and run back. We were gifted some dog running boots recently and he’s so fast that he busted holes in the boots on his first run in them while doing skids.

Super doggo! We love it! Where can people find out more about what you are up to?

@ultramaoridoctor on Instagram

Cheers, it’s been great chatting Inia. All the best for your upcoming Ultras! 

The team @ Opus Fresh

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