November Newsletter


Hi members and friends of Achilles NZ with the November monthly update regarding the activities of Achilles International New Zealand. This update is really all about the New York marathon and viewpoints from some of those that competed in the event. Just to let you know right from the beginning that we kept the streak going which is now 24 years long of all those that started the marathon in New York also finished it!!!!  Achilles would especially like to thank Justine and her team from Cigna NZ who did an amazing job of getting media coverage for Achilles in the leadup to the marathon and also after the event-we were seen in newspapers and on all the TV networks, plus heard on the radio and all over social media. Achilles is most fortunate to have an amazing partner in Cigna.


In this update, we also meet another of our Board members in Ian Winson.

In Ian’s own words

“I am a 53yr old civil engineer who has been involved in sport and exercise since the age of 5. Part of being involved in sport is also taking the time to be involved in the administration of sport so there is a balanced outlook and approach. At this time of my life, my style of contribution is mostly unique as I have experienced the able body world and am now a part of the disabled community.

Prior to 2011, when I survived a multi traumatic event which left me with multiple injuries, I participated in numerous sporting events which, amongst others, included endurance and sprint events. I have competed in solo sports as well as team sports and have the ability to be a team player but also have the discipline to work alone to achieve the goals I set.

Post 2011, I have used sport as my rehabilitation tool to improve my daily life and my standing in the community. Being fit, strong and active enhances my life despite the physical impairments that I have.”

Some comments and pics from athletes and guides who competed in the 2017 New York marathon


Jack the athlete Debbie and Greg the guides from Invercargill

 "We would like to thank Achilles for supporting us to participate in the New York Marathon, it was an amazing experience and something we will never forget.  The organizing of the whole experience was incredible through Marathon Tours and Achilles.

The race day was awesome, being part of Achilles meant that the majority of stress was taken away because getting to the race and the pick up afterwards was so smooth, quick and easy. 


Laura Stuart from Wellington one of our Push Rim Wheelchair athletes with the founder of Achilles Dick Traum.

“My experience of New York - both New York and the marathon were greater than what I could've imagined. The city was bustling with positive excitement and the locals were friendly and supportive - even more so on race day. The marathon is a really special event. The atmosphere was amazing and I felt like I was being pushed to finish line by the cheers of the spectators. It's certainly a milestone achievement for me and a memory I won't forget.”



Cory Heberly athlete and Arron Heberly guide from New Zealand via Austral ie. From Cory-My experience of the NY Marathon was just amazing, I loved every single minute of it. I think the Guides that Achilles arranged for me was the highlight they went out of their way to make the day about me from writing my name on their shirts to arranging a party at their apartment for us after the race to the American doggy bag of gifs they arranged for us to take back home they just made the entire day spectacular from start to finish.

Another highlight for me was meeting all the Achilles athletes and guides and hearing their journey of how they managed to train and prepare for New York with the challenging disabilities and how we managed to overcome these challenges with a little help and support from our guides so that we could compete just like everyone else 😊

I also loved the celebration dinner on the last night and hearing everyone’s stories after dinner was very touching, and celebrating with everyone long into the night was just amazing.


Stephen Jenkins athlete and Jack Becroft guide from Auckland

From Jack the guide. “Yep the VISA account definitely took a bashing but all in all was such a great trip! Everything ran smoothly and didn't seem to have any issues. The only complaint was that I didn't want to leave haha! The Marathon Tour guys were also always super helpful - so props to them as well.

Was super grateful to be a part of this trip and look forward to what the future holds with Achilles!”




Dan Buckingham another of our Push Rim Wheelchair athletes from Auckland

“I'd say as a very general overarching theme everything was very much on point. The whole trip exceeded expectations. 

Leading into it I felt like 6 nights was going to go by far too quick - however I think the time was so made out it felt like a decent break. Things such as getting to meet Rod (that is Rod Dixon-one of our Achilles Ambassadors and winner of the New York Marathon in 1983) was a great extra, and really does go down well as feeling like we were on a very privileged trip. 

I would recommend New York, the marathon, and everything about it to anyone. “

Tiffany Perry one of our Hand cyclists from Hamilton

“Second time in New York and it is an amazing place like no other. Would love to go back again and take even more time off my time 🚲😊

Good amount of meetings and group gatherings. Not too onerous but enough to keep on track and catch up with some/ of the team.

Marathon day went great - happy campers Chris and I - thanks for having me once again. Chris is quietly muttering he would like to do it next year so I’m encouraging him :)


Rachel Grunwell  one of our special Ambassadors who also acted as a guide to Tamati Pearce one of visually impaired athletes.

Achilles New Zealand took a top team to the New York Marathon (Sunday November 5, 2017).

This was the 24th year, Achilles New Zealand has taken a group of athletes over to this event. And as tradition goes, everyone triumphantly conquered the challenge.

Eleven athletes, 10 guides and additional family members made up the team headed by Achilles NZ National Manager John Bowden.

The team was in New York from November 1 through 7.

The team:

NY first-timers: Hand cyclist Jack Lovett-Hurst, Push rim's Jesse Apiti, Laura Stuart and Daniel Buckingham, as well as runners Stephen Jenkins and Corrie Heberley.

Those returning to New York to try and better their previous times included hand cyclists Ian Walker and Tiffiney Perry as well as blind runners Laura Eitjes, Tamati Pearse and Mike Lloyd.

Sadly, Lloyd Sinton had to pull out at the 11th hour in NZ before the group departed due to injury. Lloyd had trained hard, was dedicated and so we were gutted he couldn’t make race day and the trip. But we have no doubt he will be successful in the future and take on the challenge with the support of his wife Debbie and son Scott.

Every athlete returned from the trip elated, triumphant, buzzing and (I believe) changed – even in just a little way. Too many highlights to single out, but here are just a couple. Tiffiney was first home in her category. Mike conquered the event for the 9th time. Corrie sped through at an amazing pace alongside his brother. Jack and his step-dad Greg were an inspiration to watch out on the field and incredibly not too tired to be on radio within minutes of finishing and wonderfully sharing their success. Laura was much quicker through than she imagined she could be. She was back so quick that her mum missed her speedy daughter! Dan was buzzing over the thrill of the downhills and whole experience. All the athletes were proud and felt on a high after the race.

The week ran smoothly without any issues. This was credit to every member of the team.

There has been so much publicity and stories shared and interviews on the trip that it would be impossible to single out them all. Thanks to all the team for bravely and proudly sharing your stories and spreading the magic of what the Achilles charity is all about. Thanks too to Cigna for their big support in this area.

It’s time now for every athlete to think about the next dream goal down the track (or at the track lol). Don’t lose focus. And importantly – take this goal-crushing and dream-chasing experience and apply it to your everyday life. Aim high, think big and be bold with chasing dreams in your life!

Final thoughts on New York


During the trip Rachel, Mike and I attended to some Achilles and Cigna-related responsibilities. The whole team was shouted out to lunch by Achilles charity founder Dick Traum, and it was incredible to hear his wisdom, marathon stories and hear about what Achilles in America achieves. Most of the team also attended the Achilles dinner where hundreds of members turned up globally. It was fantastic to connect with people from all over the world connected with Achilles.


Rachel and I attended the Achilles International Gala dinner where speakers included news anchor Kirstin Cole, inspiring athlete Anthony Butler, TV host and comedian Jon Stewart, speaker Master Sgt Cedric King and founder Dick Traum just to name a few. The fundraising throughout the dinner and evening was at a whole new level to what we are used to but it was certainly loads of fun and inspiring. We did however represent Achilles International NZ with style and grace-well at least Rachel did! 


I trust you also had a great night of fireworks this November with either friends and/or family. To all those members and coaches that have kept up your training this month congratulations. They say Summer begins on December 1 so a great reminder and more to come about the Cigna Wellington Round the Bays. It is not that far away-pencil in the date-Sunday February 18 and enjoy your summer training!!

 I want to thank our special partners Cigna NZ, Cigna Foundation the Lottery Grants Board, Pure Sport Nutrition, ICAP, the Constellation Community Trust and the New Zealand Community Trust for their continued support of Achilles New Zealand.


Matt McNeil