Skip to main content
Your browser is out of date

Unfortunately some parts of the Cigna New Zealand website don’t work properly on your browser version, please update your browser and try again.

Media Release: Running Blind Comes Easy With A Guide

Wellington blind man Dave Piper joins the Achilles team participating in Cigna Round the Bays.

Wellington man Dave Piper is one of more than 60 Achilles New Zealand athletes taking part in the Cigna Round the Bays event. Dave won’t be able to see the people cheering him on or the other runners on the route, but that won’t stop him from running the Cigna Achilles Half Marathon.

Wellington man Dave Piper is one of more than 60 Achilles New Zealand athletes taking part in the Cigna Round the Bays event. Dave won’t be able to see the people cheering him on or the other runners on the route, but that won’t stop him from running the Cigna Achilles Half Marathon.

Dave was born with a degenerative eye disease that he knew would eventually lead to loss of vision. He thought complete blindness wouldn’t happen until late in life, however about ten years ago Dave’s sight went unexpectedly over what seemed like a few months. “I knew that I would eventually go blind and had started preparing for that day by doing things like joining the Blind Foundation” says Dave. “But I wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon and it did come as a bit of a shock.”

Dave had always been a keen sportsman, playing cricket and soccer and taking part in triathlons and half marathons. “It was important for me to stay active, even though the blindness meant that I’d lost the ability to run independently”, says Dave. “I would ask friends and people I met at running events to guide me, but it became increasingly difficult to find guides.”

Dave had heard about Achilles International New Zealand, a charity that supports Kiwis with disabilities to participate alongside able-bodied athletes in mainstream running events. “I knew that Achilles was Auckland based, but once I heard that Cigna was helping Achilles to set up a Wellington Chapter in preparation for last year’s Cigna Round the Bays, I was there from day one.”

Dave attends the Wellington Achilles Chapter’s fortnightly training sessions and pounds the Wellington pavements and trails with Achilles guides. Dave is able to avoid obstacles while running by using a tether (a selection of old rugby socks!), which he and a guide each hold an end of. And his bright yellow Achilles t-shirt helps him to stand out to other runners. Dave ran Cigna Round the Bays and the Wellington Half Marathon last year with Achilles, and is currently training hard for the Round the Bays Half Marathon on 21 February.

“It’s been fantastic running with Achilles, as the guides are properly trained and are there because they genuinely want to be guides for someone with a disability,” says Dave. “I’d encourage anyone else who is blind or has any kind of disability to get in touch with Achilles - having someone to run or walk with and support you makes it easy to keep active.”

Cigna New Zealand partners with Achilles and is the primary of sponsor of Cigna Round the Bays. “We’re excited to be on this journey with Achilles, it’s a great cause and the athletes have some really inspiring stories,” says Cigna New Zealand CEO, Lance Walker. “Achilles is a great fit with our commitment to help New Zealanders improve their lives through health and wellbeing solutions.”

Find out more about Achilles International New Zealand at achillesnewzealand.org

Find out more about Cigna Round the Bays at wellingtonroundthebays.co.nz