October Newsletter


 Hi members and friends of Achilles NZ with the October update regarding the activities of Achilles International New Zealand. It has been a very busy month and with only two months before Christmas it is only going to get busier!! We have contributions this month from another Ambassador of Achilles in Rachel Grunwell, one of our Board Members Mike Lloyd, a report from our Christchurch Chapter with a challenge, a report from our Hamilton Chapter on the very successful Hamilton Half Marathon and some information from Jo Clark the Commercial and Marketing Manager of Athletics New Zealand and the famous Rotorua Marathon where we are one of the chosen charities.


Rachels words

The people, the people, the people…

That’s why I love being part of the Achilles charity.

This charity is full of great people who love goal-crushing and living life to the max. You guys are my kind of people.

I call myself a "girl guide”. I used to be proper girl guide when I was a young girl and part of the Girl Guide movement. But I sucked at that! I’m a much better girl who guides others while running.

I’m here to help and serve people who I really care about. But actually, the members of this group actually help me. You guys inspire me: Always. You all show me that any barriers we have in life are the only ones we set ourselves. I love the positivity of the group too.

As a journalist, I’m approached a lot to be part of other charities. But I chose the Achilles charity to commit to because it blends my passion of running and because of the awesome people. I’ve been involved I think since 2013 and an ambassador since then.

There are too many highlights. Every athlete I’ve guided has been amazing and I treasure every experience. I’ve lost of the count of the marathons and half marathons and fun runs I’ve helped as a guide over the years! About half of my 18 marathons alone have been while guiding. But it’s not just the people I’ve guided that mean so much too. I am heart-connected to so many members and love hearing about their races… the triumphs to the tears and everything in-between.

My son Zach has even run beside me as I guided once and helped on a sausage sizzle. And lots of my family have been there to cheer on the athletes at different events over the years. I had eight family members cheering on Tamati alone in Tauranga the other week.

I do a lot of things, but I make time to guide several times a year for this charity.

If you don’t know much about me. Here’s my background in a nutshell: Cigna wellbeing and health ambassador, mum of 3, marathoner X 18, award-winning writer with 20 years’ experience working on the best newspapers in this country, currently the wellness magazine columnist for Good magazine, yoga teacher and director of the website 

http://inspiredhealth.co.nz, which is all about inspiring Kiwis to live healthy and happy lives.

Something you might not know about me. I guess not many people will know that my Grandma is now fully blind. I love her to the moon and back and she is an amazing woman. There’s a gene in the family which means one day I might go blind too. So I guess one day someone might guide me around an event one day (if I’m lucky enough to still be running).


Mike Lloyd

I joined the Board of Achilles in 2011 and very much believe that Achilles NZ has the ability to help many Kiwi’s with disabilities to better their lives through exercise, goal setting and peer support. 

2017 New York Marathon

The New York City Marathon is upon us once again on Sunday November 5. For the 24th year, Achilles New Zealand is taking a team of athletes over to experience a marathon like no other. Over 50,000 people participate in this marathon and 2-3 million screaming New Yorkers line the streets of the five boroughs to cheer you on.

This year we have a good sized team which includes 11 athletes, 10 guides as well as additional family members who will be there to support and share in a fantastic experience. The team will be in New York from November 1 through 7.

We have NY first-timers including handcyclist Jack Lovett-Hurst, Pushrim's Jesse Apiti, Laura Stuart and Daniel Buckingham, as well as runners Stephen Jenkins and Corrie Heberley.

We also have athletes returning to New York attempting to better their previous times including handcyclists Ian Walker and Tiffiney Perry as well as blind runners Laura Eitjes, Tamati Pearse and Mike Lloyd

Our sincere thoughts go out to Lloyd Sinton who has had to pull out at the last minute due to injury. Lloyd has trained hard for a long time to complete NY and was planning to walk it with the support of his wife Debbie and son Scott.

Keep a close eye on the Achilles New Zealand Facebook page as Rachel Grunwell shares news and photos of our team’s progress throughout the week. Rachel will also be guiding blind runner Tamati Pearse.

To track the progress of the athletes during the marathon, download the free TCS NYC Marathon app. This app will allow you to track our athletes in real time. Due to the time difference between NZ and NY, the start time will be between 3:00-4:00am on Monday November 6 in NZ. So you might like to check out how they are doing over your breakfast?

For me, this will be my ninth NYC Marathon. It would have been number ten if it wasn't for Super Storm Sandi in 2012, but hey? This is really something special. As I have said to the team, the experience of doing the New York City Marathon with Achilles is a life changer. It's a week of fun and excitement, but more importantly it's an event that will tug on your emotions. It takes a lot of time and energy to train for, and complete 42.2 kms and when you add a disability into the mix it will test you to the max. They don't give away the medals to everybody, just those who push through their challenges in order to cross the finish line.

A huge thank you goes out to all of our Achilles guides and supporters. This includes the guide/support team that are going with our athlete's, but also all of you who have assisted in some way to get these folks to the start line. Without you this opportunity would not be possible.

To the team - Man are you in for an adventure. This will blow your mind! Let's smash it!! Go Achilles

The report from Nicola one of our Chapter leaders in Christchurch


On Sunday 15 October 2017 most of the Christchurch Achilles Athletes with Volunteers gave their time and enthusiasm to the Port Hills Crater Rim Ultra.  The Crater rim was held around the port hills of Christchurch with a 50km, 21km and 10km race.  A significant number of Christchurch Achilles volunteers are either members or supporter of the Port Hills Athletic Club.

With over 200 Athletes involved in this event a great deal of Marshals was required and Achilles Christchurch saw this as an opportunity to say thanks by volunteering up to 4 hours of their time.

As you can see by tie pictures above there was no hesitation when it came to dressing up the goal was to encourage and be memorable.  When we are running walking in events the phrases ‘good job’ and ‘well done’ can make the world of difference especially when the going gets tough.

Energy levels were kept high by the fact the Crater Rim Committee provided us lunch and snacks of an extremely high quality and yumminess.  The 50km races stared in hail and rain but by the time most of the marshals were out the weather was sunny and it was lovely to stand sit and cheer in the sun.

However, the race was so well organised and the competitors were so appreciative of our efforts we hope to be there next year come rain or shine wind or snow.

We also had the opportunity of support one of our most dedicated volunteers pictured below Vanessa’s first 50km ultra event.

Christchurch here by Challenges the rest of the NZ Chapters to give it a go.  Are you able to find an event that you can help with maybe at least once a year?


The Hamilton Half Marathon by Peter Loft


Hamilton Half Marathon 10 and 5kms was again a big event for Achilles Waikato, there were over 50 Achilles yellow T/Shirts out there on another nice wet day.

Everyone finished and all had a good time.

On the Saturday night we had a pasta party thanks to our friends at Novotel Tainui Hotel and we got close to 30 people there for that fun evening with NICE food and company

Next year will be bigger and better watch this space.

Special thanks to Lyn Harris and her team at Hamilton Half for having the foresight to make it possible for all Achilles athletes to participate at this event. Other Race directors could learn a lot from Lyn. Our thanks to Dick Breukink at Novotel Hotel for not only being an Achilles volunteer but for putting on the Pasta.


Run for Good 

Set yourself a challenge for 2018! Why not enter the iconic Rotorua Marathon on 5 May, and at the same time raise funds for Achilles who are a Rotorua Marathon Charity Partner.

Achieve your best time, aim for a new distance, or even participate for the first time – you can walk or run and there is a course for every level - Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10km and 5km Fun Run! Enter as an individual, a family or a team, and join the wider Achilles team of runners and help fundraise to make a real difference to a great cause.

Early bird rates are available now until the 30 November -  visit www.rotoruamarathon.co.nz

Once you’ve registered, it’s easy to set up your own or team fundraising page - visit http://rotoruamarathon.everydayhero.do/

We’ve even got a special marathon rate with the Millennium and Copthorne Hotels (call 0800 463 3846 or Email ), so why not make a weekend of it in New Zealand’s coolest hot spot!

Hope to see you there!  Rotorua Marathon Highlights Video

I trust you also had a relaxing Labour weekend with either friends and/or family and once again I want to thank Cigna, the Lottery Grants Board, Pure Sport Nutrition, ICAP, the Constellation Trust and the New Zealand Community Trust for their continued support of Achilles New Zealand.

A special thanks to Hamish Meacheam the CEO of Parafed Auckland who with his coaching hat on provided some fantastic tips and advice over the last few weeks for those Achilles athletes competing in the New York marathon. The updates were valuable and insightful so thanks Hamish.

Finally, best wishes to those competing in the different events of the Auckland Marathon on Sunday the 29th of October. We expect plenty of fireworks from our athletes at the Auckland event and in all the upcoming events during November but also enjoy the other fireworks on November 5!!!!




Matt McNeil