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Media Release: Back To The Mountain

Cigna announced today its sponsorship of Wellington Achilles athlete, Richard Warwick to take part in the Coast to Coast Mountain Run event in February 2017.


Thirty five years ago at age 16, Richard suffered a brain bleed which paralysed the left side of his body. He was told he would never be able to run, and accepted that his days of playing sport or being physically active were behind him. Richard moved on with his life, had five children with his wife Antoinette, a successful career and the only fitness he got involved in was cheering his own kids on from the sideline. However at age 50, at the challenge and encouragement of a couple of mates he decided to challenge himself to get fit and signed up to take on the Coast to Coast Mountain Run in 2015.

Richard admits that the path back into fitness and running was not an easy one. “When people asked how I was going, I’d tell them to put their left hand in their pocket and tie their right leg to their left and that’s what it’s like for me to try to run.” Despite a grueling eight hours, Richard was unable to reach the half-way point in the race and was helicoptered off the mountain, wondering what it would take to get through the 32km of this mentally and physically challenging adventure. Clearly it was going to take an effort at a whole new level if he was to conquer the mountain.

After the first Coast to Coast attempt, Richard joined the Wellington Achilles chapter’s fortnightly training sessions with other disabled athletes, in order to boost his training levels and access guiding support. This was where he met Cigna CEO, Lance Walker, and they began training together with Lance acting as Richard’s guide. The pair went on to complete Cigna Round the Bays 2015 and the New York Marathon 2015 together.;

Lance, who has participated in a number of running events said that guiding Richard brought a whole new lens to training and the event itself. “Being able to support Richard (and sometimes have him support me!) and see him overcome immense challenges has been inspirational. After the New York Marathon I asked Richard what was next for him, and he said that he wanted to take another crack at the Coast to Coast event. I have full confidence in Richard’s ability to conquer this mountain run, and I’m really happy that Cigna will support him on this journey.”

One of the reasons that Richard wants to take on the Coast to Coast Mountain Run again is to show other people who have difficulties to overcome that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. “At 50 years of age I started a journey of small steps, where I am not just participating but am finding out how far I can go, in life you can limit your challenges or challenge your limits.” Richard hopes his story will inspire and motivate others to do the same. “With a whole new approach, training regime and the support of Cigna I’m looking forward to taking on this challenge and heading Back to the Mountain.”