On Saturday 17 November Cigna will take five Achilles athletes and their guides to Queenstown to take part in the Cigna 10km at the Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon.
“We are proud to support Achilles New Zealand and its mission to show that anyone can take part and stay active no matter what your personal challenges may be,” says Vince Warnock, Cigna New Zealand Chief Marketing Officer.
“The five Achilles athletes coming to Queenstown with us each have disabilities that they have to overcome, and we can’t wait to cheer them on at the start line!”
Meet the five Achilles athletes
After accepting a free gym pass from a friend Shannon embarked on a life changing journey of getting fit and staying active. Shannon started running with Achilles in February 2017 – opening up the world of opportunity for her. “I used to be a victim of live and didn’t see possible or opportunity anywhere. Achilles enabled me to learn to run and now I’m challenging myself through para-triathlon and am competing nationally and internationally!”
The Cigna 10km will be Shannon’s first run with her Achilles guide before they take on the National Para-triathlon on 2 December at Mt Manganui, New Zealand.
Kim has been low vision all her life. She competed in a Paralympic Sport called Goalball for 10 years, before being forced to retire in her early 20’s due to injury.
She has always been interested in discovering new places and walking, but her low vision makes navigating new and difficult terrain rather difficult. “Since joining Achilles I’ve rediscovered my passion for getting out in the outdoors. The ability to have an extra person to rely on removes the stress of knowing that I’m not going to run into another person or object. It’s given me the confidence and freedom to enjoy walking and being out with other people. I really enjoy the social inclusion it brings.”
This weekend Susan will complete her first 10km run with Achilles New Zealand. Her husband Gareth will be her guide. This is no small achievement as this will be the longest event Susan will have run since having her lower leg amputated in September 2017.
“I survived a fatal car accident in 2015 but my severely crushed ankle never healed. The chance to run and be active again was why I decided to amputate last year. In March I took part in my first disability short tri, and then a series of 3km moonlight madness runs. With Cigna and Achilles support I am so excited to be able to tackle 10km! I know if I dig deep I will be able to do it – and the feeling of completing it will be incredible!”
Dave joined Achilles in 2014 and is blind. Along with his Achilles guides he has navigated a variety of runs including the Ruapehu Goat run in 2016 and the 2017 Xterra trail running series in Wellington. Dave is currently training for Coast to Coast in February 2019. “Queenstown is the next step in my training with my guide Josh as I build up to this big challenge next year.”
Michelle joined Achilles in February 2017 with a friend and within a few short months she went from walking to jogging. She ran her first 10km at the Christchurch marathon in June. “I hate running – but I love Achilles. Everyone is so positive and supportive - it is unique nowadays to find a large group of people who are resilient, kind and positive every time you meet them. They make me want to run!”
Michelle had a successful cochlear implant in March 2013 after gradually losing her hearing until she was completely deaf and living in survival mode. At the time of her implant Michelle, who considered herself unemployable, owned her own small business. She now works alongside 20 others in a high level sales role and loves every minute!