In 2011 I was training for the Rotorua Marathon. It would have been my tenth marathon. On a Thursday morning I set off to go for a run and my legs would not cooperate. It was like trying to run through jelly. A few days later I woke up and could not see out of my right eye. One stay at the eye ward for steroids and an MRI later and I discovered that all the funny episodes that I had had over the years were the result of an autoimmune disease - I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
I became dependant on crutches to get around and had to use a wheelchair for any distance. I couldn't even do grocery shopping. I could no longer work at the job I loved, as a midwife, because the governing body decided that I couldn't meet the requirements. I had lost my work and my leisure activities. At the same time it was finally discovered that I had congenital hip dysplasia. This could have been another blow but it was a turning point. If I had been pushing my way through the pain of running on barely there hips all my life then maybe I could use that same strength of mind to teach myself to walk and then run again. I had a total hip replacement and was thrilled when the surgeon said I could run (there was no discussion of how far. I'm going on a "don't ask don't tell" policy). I had intended to try and get up to running a 5k but the opportunity to join Achilles and run the New York marathon upped the ante. What I discovered was amazing - I can't walk straight but I can run! Sure I have no feeling in my legs and I lose the ability to speak clearly with exertion but I can run! I laugh in your face MS, you're not holding me back any more.
You can help Nic get to New York with a donation at her GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
I’m 40 years of age, and I live on Auckland’s North Shore with my wife Kath and guide dog, Jazz. I was born with a rare hereditary disease called Von Hippel Lindau (www.vhl.org) which I was diagnosed with at 18yrs of age. As a result of this disease I have been totally blind since 2007, and recent surgery to remove spinal cord tumours has left me with partial paralysis of my upper limbs. I have always been interested in sports both as a spectator, and as a participant; having represented NZ in blind cricket and winning national titles in Blind Lawn Bowls. However as my disease has progressed I have had to look to new sports and find new challenges to keep myself motivated....and to keep me sane. The freedom and enjoyment of walking with my guide dog not only helped me lose weight but became a fixation. So after having completed my first ½ Marathon in 2013 I was hooked. I now seek to push myself to the limit both physically and mentally and complete my first marathon. I will be guided by my wife Kath and my good friends Marcelle and her husband Rob. I am not sure if any of us knows what lies ahead but we all thought we might as well make my first marathon the most memorable, New York will certainly be that from what I’ve been told! #Go Achilles!
To help Greg to get to New York please visit his GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
I am 42 years old from Wellington. In June 2013 I developed CIDP, a medically induced autoimmune disease where my immune system started attacking my nervous system. It took a long time for health experts to determine the cause of my pain and inability to use my upper limbs and hands. As a result, I have been left with some upper body disabilities and lots of nerve damage. I am still under medical supervision and strong medication and it’s going to be a long journey (if ever) back to my old self. However luckily enough my legs are still good so I can continue to do what I love doing – running! Prior to getting sick, I ran the Paris, Melbourne and Christchurch marathons with the GetRunning club and I know I have at least six more marathons in me before I hit the sofa for good. Although I struggle with my upper body and have to manage with the pain, fatigue, plus the side effects of the medication – I can still get the running shoes on and find setting some goals like the New York or Berlin marathons really helps. I find I just have to rest so much more than the old self. If a morning run means an afternoon on the sofa – so be it! Doing something that makes you happy, ticking off a goal or a training run gives purpose to live and gets you through those painful days.
You can help Kelly with a donation at the teams GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
Hi. I'm Mike from Auckland. I am a blind runner and training hard towards completing my seventh New York City Marathon with Achilles NZ. I plan to record much of the marathon experience before, during and after the event for a podcast episode found at http://theblindsportpodcast.com as I have done in previous years. There is no escaping the fact that completing this marathon will again take a lot of focus, discipline and effort in order to cross the finish line and collect that medal, but as a blind runner, this goal is only achievable via the amazing guiding, coaching and support of my running guides and Achilles. The NYC marathon has been a life changing event for me on so many levels and it is my aim to assist, encourage and inspire other people with a disability that dreams are achievable if you take action to overcome adversity. Please help to support Achilles to positively change lives. Thanks so much. Mike
You can help Mike with a donation at his GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
I am a double above knee amputee with various injuries to both arms and hands. I also suffer from a traumatic brain injury. I am 50 years old and live in Auckland, New Zealand. In June 2011 I was seriously injured in a workplace accident where I was caught in the shock wave of a gas explosion some 500m away while inspecting the lining of a 2m diameter water main. The injuries sustained were life threatening and if not for the emergency services I would not have survived.
In my day to day living the hardest thing I have to put up with is nerve pain and fatigue… i hate being tired as there is too much to do… I am motivate by life and by people who themselves are motivated. My wife and sons are my daily inspiration.
My goals for 2015 are to compete at the New York marathon on a foot crank using my prosthetics and to reach a suitable qualification standard in swimming. New York will be my first marathon as a physically challenged athlete. To anybody with a physical disability is to get up, get fit but most of all get strong. The stronger you are the easier life can be.
You can help Ian with a donation at his GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
I'm Richard Warwick from Wellington. At 16 I suffered an arteriovenous malformation, that's a flash medical term for a brain bleed, I went from being a fit, healthy 16 year old teen with his whole life ahead of him to suddenly becoming completely paralyzed on my left hand side and facing an uncertain future. Through intensive physiotherapy and the support of family and friends I gained back a level of mobility that allowed me to get on with life and living.I finished my secondary schooling, found employment, I have married, had a family and worked all my life and in essence just "got on with it" being a Dad to 5 children I spent a lot of time on the sidelines over the years when they were young supporting them in their sports activities but its only been recently that I looked at taking on some challenges of my own in that "arena". It started for me taking up Lawn Bowls a game that I love but I never considered for a moment that I would find myself looking to take on competing in a race let alone a marathon. It was only through meeting Peter Loft finding out about Achilles and joining Achilles that the opportunity to do the New York Marathon was presented to me, I had never imagined in my wildest dreams that one day I would complete a marathon, after all I cant "run", Peter wasn't interested in if I could run but rather could I move and could I keep moving? so here I am at 51 in training and working towards stepping up to that start line in New York and facing one of the biggest challenges I have ever taken on, I have been inspired by the likes of Alex Zanardi a motor racing driver who lost both of his legs in a racing accident who went on to win a gold medal at the London Olympics who said: "In life as long as you have something to fight,even the greatest defeat can be turned into your greatest victory" .... see you at the finish line.
You can help Richard with a donation at his GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
My name is Terry and I live in Ashburton where I am a forest manager. I am 51 years old and the father of 3 teenage children. I have a spinal cord injury, a complete dislocation of my spinal cord at T10, the result of an accident in January 2013. This means I have no use of my legs and I have limited trunk stability, it also affects my life in many other ways - including chronic nerve pain. Prior to my accident I was a reasonably active guy. Probably my greatest passion was running, especially trail running. I also enjoyed mountain biking, windsurfing, rowing, tennis, tramping, basketball and many other sports and pastimes. Following my accident I am now looking for new ways to extend myself and try and go beyond my disability and one of the first major goals I have set myself is to complete the New York marathon in a wheelchair. I am very fortunate to have met a wonderful women recently. Denise has been very supportive of my quest to do this marathon and has been a pivotal part of my training and I look forward to her continued support all the way to New York.
You can help Terry with a donation at the teams GIVEALITTLE fundraising page
I’m 20 years old and from the North Shore, Auckland. I was born with glaucoma and have been blind since birth, though I have colour perception (I can see bright colours, especially the Achilles training top)! As I was born blind, I'm used to it as I haven’t known anything else, though the hardest thing for me with this disability was going to board at Homai blind school and being away from my normal support network. I started running when I met Sir Murray Halberg, he told I that looked like a runner as I was throwing shot puts at the time. I have found running quite a challenge initially as I have to place my wellbeing in the hands of my running guide 'Ben'. I have to trust that he won’t make me run into overhanging trees branches wheely bins and cracks in the pavement as these can hurt and can also involve taking out the guide as well as myself! I have set myself a goal of running New York Marathon later this year– the first time I will complete a marathon. So undertaking training with Ben (my guide) and finishing school this year are my two main motivations, along with deciding what I’m going to do next year! My one piece of advice for anyone that is visually impaired or completely blind is to use all your senses and your talents to succeed in life, you don’t just rely on sight!
You can help Tamati with a donation at the teams GIVEALITTLE fundraising page