Through the eyes and feet of Francois Jacobs and Michelle Joison, we experience two different Melbourne Achilles teams as they climbed up the Eureka tower last Sunday 17th of November.
By Francois Jacobs
Through firsthand experience in the ups and downs of job seeking I know how physical activity can keep up the motivation and overall wellbeing. So I have been a regular participant in the weekly circuit training provided by Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria at the Hawthorn Aquatics and Leisure Centre. There I met the personal trainer Bob and the amazing crew of BSRV volunteers and soon also began personal training with him. When I heard about the Eureka Stair Climb it sounded like just the motivation I needed to set a personal goal for myself. When I learnt that Bob had done it before and enjoyed it immensely it became a done deal. He knew this super fit crazy fitness fanatic called Adrian who would do things like sign up for a 210km cycle event on the spot, so Adrian was recruited on the spot to be my Eureka guide.
From beginning October we started incorporating twice a week workouts on the Stair Master which I soon started calling the “Stair Monster”. It was gruelling and it never got any easier, but over time I realised that it made me a much better runner up Anderson Street on Sundays with Achilles.
On Saturday night I felt convinced that I’m not ready, typical for the pre-race nerves that comes with inexperience but hey, I thought, there’s many others just like myself so let’s just do it.
The weather on Sunday morning was perfect and the company even better. Fellow Achilleans Kevin and Karen would start in the same wave as me with my two member crew, and before I knew it we were off. We passed a few climbers, and a few others passed us, but it was such a friendly affair, and everybody just encouraged everybody else all the way up.
The view at the top… I don’t know much about that, but what I do know is that I very much felt like I was on top of the world when we reached the sky deck in under 20 minutes. What surprised me most was on Monday morning when I realised that I wasn’t even sore at all. Personal trainer Bob was obviously good at his job!
Thanks to all our supporters, some with donations to the Fred Hollows Foundation, some stopping by to say hi at the Stair Monster and some with messages of encouragement on Facebook. You all made us feel like we’re doing something worthwhile.
By Michelle Joison
"Today I challenged myself to walk up 88 flights of stairs guiding Haylee, who has about 5% vision, while representing Achilles and of course, supporting the Fred Hollows Foundation.
As we arrived at the event, we were greeted by dozens of hot, sweaty climbers who had just completed the climb. Most of them had smiles of accomplishment, which was reassuring, but some looked exhausted, which made us a little nervous. I was starting to get a grasp of how hard this event could be. I was guiding Haylee, who has completed this event twice before, so in a way she was guiding me as it was my first time.
We started our ascent and the stair well was fairly empty - at one stage I had to check that we were in the correct stair well! Pretty soon we heard voices and realised all was well. Each flight of 16 - 20 stairs took us up to another floor, and every 3 flights or so we would stop so Haylee could catch her breath, compose herself and take off again. We met plenty of other climbers along the way, and greeted most of them with words of encouragement or jokes, mostly along the lines of ‘there’s no turning back!‘ or ‘it’s all uphill from here!’
Time passed quickly, and before we knew it we were at the 44th floor, the half way point, where we felt like we had overcome a big mental hurdle. Every climber had their own story: some felt they hadn’t trained enough, some cruised through almost effortlessly and others questioned why they were putting themselves through this. Haylee had no doubt that she could complete the climb for the third time, and she paced herself well - climbing steadily, then resting and drinking when needed. I was happy to support her at whatever pace suited her. Haylee gained so much confidence from the climb that she was able to let go of the hand rail for the last 10 floors or so.
Others on the climb found Haylee was their inspiration. ‘If she can do it, so can I!’ One climber was close to giving up before the half way mark, and we were so happy to meet her at the finish line with the biggest smile, saying that we were what kept her going.
On the 88th floor, we were greeted by dozens of climbers cheering, cameras flashing and volunteers placing medals around our necks. The much anticipated view at the top was a great reward and a perfect chance to allow the heart rate to slow down and leg muscles to relax while admiring the stunning views across Melbourne.
The athletes with vision impairment have once again given me so much inspiration and reminded me that we can all gain so much from these experiences by tuning into and sharpening all our senses, not just our vision."
Achilles Melbourne Incorporated (Achilles Melbourne) will hold its 4th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at The Green Room, Multicultural Hub. 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, on Saturday, 26th October 2019, at 2:30PM.
About the AGM
Please find attached the AGM Agenda and Notice, a Committee Nomination Form, and last year’s AGM minutes.
All financial members of Achilles Melbourne are entitled to one vote each in relation to any resolution put to the AGM. At the meeting, members will also have an opportunity to:
Call for Nominations for Committee Members
The election of the Committee will take place at the AGM. There are three vacant positions:
Co-Treasurer, Social Media Liaison and General Member.
People wishing to nominate for one of the positions or contest a position can do so by completing the attached Nomination Form.
All nominees must be financial members of Achilles Melbourne as at 30 June 2019, and should familiarise themselves with the respective Position Description (see Nomination Form) and the Achilles Melbourne Rules and Code of Conduct. Please contact Achilles Melbourne for more information.
Nomination forms should be submitted in Microsoft Word or text format and must be emailed by Tuesday, 22nd October 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Achilles Melbourne Mid-Year Raffle was drawn on the morning of the 14th of July at Janet Lady Clarke Rotunda at Achilles training.
We thank everyone who supported this raffle by purchasing tickets and/or sharing our raffle sales site. A special thank-you to Adrienne for coordinating the raffle and Vic for assisting with prizes. Without further ado, we'd like to congratulate the following people, along with sending out a huge thanks to our prize suppliers:
1st PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #180
1 nights' accommodation at Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne
2nd PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #171
Run Club 5 Class Pass
3rd PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #516
Case of wine from Prince Wine Store
4th PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #511
Entry to Sole Motive's Run Melbourne
5th PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #60
Cosmetics from Mecca Cosmetica
6th PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #318
60 minute Myotherapy Session with Melinda at Body Health Co Moonee Ponds
7th PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #474
Singlet and Cap from nokkon
8th PRIZE WINNER
Ticket Number: #325
Case of wine from Boccaccio Cellars
Congratulations to Paul Cosgrave, Achilles Melbourne's volunteer of the month for June 2019! Here's what our members had to say about Paul:
"I want to nominate Paul for two things: Paul coordinates VI athletes wanting to run at parkrun (Gardiner's Creek and Mullum Mullum) each weekend. Paul checks with the VIs and then finds a guide as required. He is caring and passionate about ensuring that everyone gets a go at parkrun. He also volunteers his own time most weekends to guide parkrunners with vision impairment. Paul goes above and beyond to ensure that our VIs needs out east are met with respect, fun and a bit of cheeky laughter."
On behalf of everyone at Achilles, thanks Paul for doing what you do!
If you'd like to nominate someone for volunteer of the month, you can do so by emailing email@example.com
By Peggy Soo
Achilles members, both guides and VIPs, took a trip to Great Ocean Road on the weekend of the 18th/19th of May. Over 40 Achilles members participated in a number of events ranging from half marathon to 14km and 6km events. For some Achilleans, travelling to an event of this nature was an adventure within itself, using a variety of modes of transport: from VLine, guides and VIP’s travelling in car groups to the Achilles bus (thank you William and drivers). We arrived Friday evening with enthusiasm and excitement.
After the briefing and photos on Saturday morning, we headed into Apollo Bay township to participate in the 6km and 14km events. We had many cheers and supporters starting off at the wonderful Apollo Bay along some beautiful roads country Victoria has to offer...even running alongside some horses, if they were keen! The run was lovely and sunny which was certainly unusual for the middle of May.
Sunday morning brought on half marathon events along the picturesque Great Ocean Road. Once again many teams participated in this were very strong through some great distances. The teams were cheered by Achillians dotted along the road – even at the local bus stop. This motivated our athletes knowing that there were supporters along the way.
This weekend wasn’t all about running. It was very much about socialising with all our VIP’s and guides where we even cooked and ate together prepared by our wonderful sighted guide-come-chef, Simone.
I want to thank each person who made this trip possible. This took hours of preparation to get over 40 people in one place with accommodation, paired with guides and participated in all events. Thank you to our drivers for coordinating how to get to and from places with such ease. Big thank you to Simon, Tammy, Rhiannon, Simone, Maddy, Amanda, Theresa and William for the hours of organising and preparation into this. This is certainly a ‘bucket list’ event for many. We couldn’t be there without you.
By Sophie Thomas
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to take part in the Great Ocean Road Running Festival with Achilles Running Group. The running community of Victoria and beyond came together to pit their wits against the iconic windy road that gives such amazing views and the occasional queasy stomach (car-sickness anyone?).
The beautiful and normally quiet towns of Lorne, Skenes Creek and Apollo Bay hosted more than 8200 runners, and of course all of their family and friends who came along as support crew!
This event is for everyone! There’s a race for all running abilities, each giving their own challenges to overcome. Whether it’s long and slow inclines; steep hills, crazy angled camber, getting up at 4.30am, being shuttle-bussed to the start line, starting at 1pm in the full afternoon sun, a finish line 60km after the start line (those ultra-runners are nuts), it all adds up to an amazing sense of achievement when you cross that finish line.
I entered the Garmin 14km Paradise Run, and I must admit, my preparation was not as thorough as it could have been, which probably explained the major butterflies in my stomach in the lead up to the race (I couldn’t blame it all on the windy drive down). Talking to my Achilles friends, I found that most people have this, and it’s usually due to excitement and anticipation. I was paired with guide Stephanie, and we were joined by Deb, who was running her own race but decided to help out and ‘bulldoze’ for us.
Our race started later in the day, which was different for me – I couldn’t work out when I should eat and what I should eat. In the end I opted for eggs and yoghurt for breakfast (not in the same bowl… ew) and an apple just before the run.
Along with five other Achilles teams (VIPs Chris, Peggy, Eamon, Maddy and Penny) we set off from the Apollo Bay Pub, and then after about 300 metres our route veered right and we were heading inland. Wait, we’re not actually running on the Great Ocean Road? Huh! In fact, any feelings of being cheated quickly dissipated. We ran through beautiful peaceful cow pasture areas and up into the fresh cool forest of Paradise. It was equally as scenic as the beach-side routes the other runs took, and being the tree-lover I am it was pure happiness to be running on the road under the trees and alongside a sparkling creek.
Side-bar: I must admit that, looking up across the route in front of us and seeing thousands of people snaking along through the fields, I had a momentary thought “aren’t humans stupid?” What other animal does this? Gathers in huge numbers and runs along together in the same direction just for fun?! We are a strange race!
The teams spread out along the race and we cheered Eamon and Chris as they sailed past on the way back. Penny and I kept passing each other, with plenty of competitive banter and laughs each time. My goal was to finish in under 2 hours, and I managed 1 hr 45 minutes…plus I ran most of the way, with only a couple of walking breaks needed towards the end. I’m so pleased with myself, and it’s motivated me to improve my running and aim for more!
Achilles actually had 42 people (combined VIPs and guides) entered in races over the weekend, so there was always someone to cheer on even if your race was done.
Let me tell you, if you want to see emotion, go hang out at the finish line of a marathon. All the FEELS! I saw women being greeted by their proud husbands and smiling children, who then grabbed hands and ran across the finish line with them, extraordinary men in their 70s and older being supported by their daughters, young teenagers being filmed by their extremely vocal friends, and so many running group members all looking out for their comrades. Supporters were running back and forth coaching their friends and family down that last 100 metres, and not to forget our very own vision impaired pals who all came in strong, flanked by their amazing guides every step of the way.
The support out there was immense. I swear, if you think the closing scene of Love Actually is heart-warming, you need to see this for yourself. Whether you’re a runner or not, you can’t deny that running a marathon is a huge achievement and deserves all the admiration, love and celebration that comes from those that crowd the finish tunnel.
So if you’ve ever thought about participating in such an event, I strongly urge you to try it out. Achilles makes it possible! From registering to accommodation and transport, they work hard so it’s easy for you. It’s highly unlikely I would be able to attend events like this without Achilles. I feel so lucky to be part of such a wonderful group of people and am so grateful for all the support I receive.
By Penny Stevenson
You’re in a race, maybe grabbing a drink and someone tries to get in between you and your Guide because your hip tether is invisible.
I’ve long thought one of those safety triangles that are used on worksites would be useful to stop runners from running between myself and my guide, but I only wanted one, not an entire string of safety triangles!
The other day I was walking and something bright caught my eye, it was one of these triangles lying on the ground. Perfect! Time to test my theory.
It is made from a plasticy material and is quite rigid but not heavy.
I folded it over the tether and attached it with safety pins. The tether is still free to move and stretch.
My sighted guide and I tested it out at parkrun and whilst it might not solve the issue entirely (I’m sure that if it’s crowded people will still miss it), it provides another level of visibility.
At the time of writing, a 30m length of flags was available at Bunnings for $8.15
By Rhiannon Boulger
After a speedy and sweaty lap of the Tan for the Achilles Christmas break-up Tan Handicap, a group of Achilleans stepped into the darkness at Dialogue in the Dark - a sensory experience tour of Melbourne in complete darkness.
I was looking forward to dipping a toe in to the city of Melbourne as experienced by a person with vision impairment, and what happened was a fun and educational, full-on sensory experience.
Our guide, Kate warned us that other senses may be heightened in total darkness, and that's true. We laughed as we accidentally walked into things and each other (sorry Jeff!)
In the moments we weren't given any direction, I would just stand back, feeling somewhat exposed and, at times, vulnerable in the unfamiliar environment surrounding me. This made me think of how motivated Achilles athletes are to hit the ground running without hesitation, but here I was, nervous to move.
I felt I had to ask Kate how she knew where we each were and how to direct us, and she said that she knows her surroundings so well, she could sense where we were. That in turn made me worry that perhaps my incessant warnings to Achilles athletes while running may be too much. Could it be overwhelming to try and comprehend my direction amongst the sounds and sensations they felt?
Throughout the tour you're encouraged to touch and feel the things around you, and even the ground under your feet feels patchy and uneven. At the end, Kate encouraged us to ask questions and discuss our experience. When asked if the ground in the exhibition reflected how it felt out in the city, Kate said it was pretty accurate. This again made me think of the experience of Achilles athletes, and perhaps too many warnings are better than not enough?
I learned a lot, as most of the tour was relevant to the knowledge needed as a guide. The experience and insight gained has given me the opportunity to reflect on the guide/athlete dynamic in a way that will help me to contribute to the success of our wonderful club to cover more of the city trails, and beyond.
...and here are a few more quotes from our Achilles guides who were on the tour:
"Being plunged into total darkness makes you rely on other senses and has highlighted to me how important verbal communication is. Our facial expressions add emphasis to our words and when that is not there, you need to be careful of word choice (ie. no-one saw my cheeky wink when I said we all stank after running around The Tan )"
"It was thought provoking, challenging, & somewhat confronting and it leaves me a little in awe with what the VIPs go through each day with their lives.
Ifeel very humbled that I have the privilege to be Achilles Guide the last year or so.
I'll definitely want to spruik DITD as I feel it is important that everyone should be more compassionate to our fellow people with any special needs, be it physical or mental issues."
By Adrienne Knell
It started just like any other Sunday at the tan: everyone meeting at the usual Rotunda. Although this time, bags weren’t put down and K9s weren’t attached to chairs.
Shortly after 8:30am we packed up and took the short walk to the Pillars of Wisdom. What many didn’t know was that in just over an hour it would be a flurry of yellow shirts making a sprint finish along the very same path.
Arriving at the Clock Tower, the puppies got used to their new cage tethering spot and people eagerly checked the weather app to ensure that the rain was going to hold off for us.
After our Welcome to Country, the highly anticipated teams for the handicap were announced. VIPs met with their team mates and were put through a delightful warm up which provided insight into the Wednesday night strength class.
Then it was time.
Pairings were done. The BBQ was sizzling away in the background. And for many, they learned where the official start line of the tan began.
Haylee and Jeff were the first to set off on the 3.89km journey and were sent off with a roar from the crowd as the first count down was completed. Ness took off shortly after with Maegan, Sharon and Catherine.
Brooke was the third to head out on the track and had Amir and Sarah hot on her heels. Peggy had a short wait and felt the nerves building on the start line before she took off with Marie and Nicki with some PBs to smash.
The next moments were a hot mess at the start line with 4 competitors all flying off within 3 minutes of each other. Francois took off with powerhouse guides Nat and Sarah N knowing that just a minute behind him, new member, Bill, would be facing off with champion group Simon, Lara and Michelle.
Kevin was off in the next minute leaving Andrew with a two minute wait at the start line. Andrew and Emily were eager to set off, and Rhiannon had a strategy to use her Jingle Bells and Christmas cheer to those they would pass.
One person remained. Adam was cool, calm and collected as his guides took the time to warm up. A hill sprint here, a stretch there. Finally, 23 minutes after the initial gun, Chris, Jen, Sami and Adam were off and they had their work cut out for them.
All that was left at the start line was the time keeper and the paparazzi. Suddenly, around the corner came a sea of yellow shirts. It was impossible to tell who had the lead and the blur of yellow got bigger and bigger before out of the haze was Hazel & Josie guiding Bill to a strong win. Closely behind was Brooke with strong support from Monica and Jacinta and hot on her heels was Kevin with strong duo Tanya and Cayla.
And then it was done. There were many out of breath competitors showing that everyone had given it everything they had. But mostly, what I saw were a lot of smiles and comradery. Participants reported that there was overwhelming support for their friends out on the Tan track, and even though it’s cliché to say it, we were all winners out there. And now, we all have PBs to smash, a trophy to win and a title to defend.
I’d really like to thank everyone so much for giving it a go and getting behind the handicap. It was a wonderful day and I’m so proud to be part of Achilles.
Will – Handicap Time: 36 min 48 sec. Personal Time: 21 min 48 sec.
Brooke – Handicap Time: 37 min 12 sec. Personal Time: 33 min 12 sec.
Kevin - Handicap Time: 37 min 17 sec. Personal Time: 21 min 17 sec.
Andrew - Handicap Time: 37 min 54 sec. Personal Time: 21 min 17 sec.
Simon - Handicap Time: 38 min 26 sec. Personal Time: 23 min 26 sec.
Amir - Handicap Time: 39 min 22 sec. Personal Time: 31 min 22 sec.
Adam - Handicap Time: 39 min 28 sec. Personal Time: 16 min 28 sec.
Francois - Handicap Time: 39 min 34 sec. Personal Time: 25 min 34 sec.
Haylee - Handicap Time: 39 min 42 sec. Personal Time: 39 min 42 sec.
Peggy - Handicap Time: 40 min 53 sec. Personal Time: 28 min 53 sec.
Ness - Handicap Time: 41 min 16 sec. Personal Time: 40 mins 16 sec.
By Andrew Close
On Sunday (4TH November), Achilles traveled to Nagambie and competed in the Four Vines Running Festival. It was a great day, with all competitors finishing their fun run. I would like to thank all the guides for a fantastic job they did - I would like to mention Mel E and Ashton B on their first fun run and Andrew G for his first time guiding. Ashton is the son of Chris and Amy he is only 3 years old and competed in the 2k with his dad and Andrew G (guide). After the fun run, we went to Nagambie rowing hotel and had a great lunch. The day was a great experience. Also, I would like to thank Amanda, Katherine and Amy for organizing this event without them it would not have happened.
Chris B and Julie B (guide)
Peggy S and Amanda K (guide)
Andrew C and Andrew G (guide)
Melanie E and Catherine N (guide)
Amy B and Robin B (guide)
2k kids runners:
Ashton, Chris and Andrew G
Dash for cash sprinters:
Andrew C and Cayla O
Photo 1: 5k starters Catherine, Mel, Amy, Andrew C, Andrew G, Robin and Ashton next to nokkon flag
Photo 2: all starters minus Andrew C. Left to right: Robin, Andrew G, Mel, Julie, Chris, Catherine, Amy, below: Georgia in pram, Peggy, Amanda and Granby the dog guide.
Photo 3: Ashton, Chris and Andrew run over a gravel path in between dense trees
Photo 4: Andrew and Andrew run side by side next to vines with a long road extending behind the, blue skies above
Photo 5: Andrew and Cayla sprinting down the home stretch of the dash for cash
Photo 6: Catherine and Mel running on a gravel path in thick forest.
This month’s volunteer of the month goes to Mark H! Mark was nominated for his:
“wonderful commitment during the year running most Wednesdays. When most people prefer a sleep in, Mark is always there at 6 AM to make sure I get my 5 km run. He is a great person with a good manner and attitude towards people with diverse backgrounds! His dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated”
Getting in an extra run a week outside our Sunday training is just as important for our athletes to meet the minimum recommended exercise dose! And being close to home removes any cost barriers with travelling. Thanks to volunteers like Mark, we can now increase the frequency of exercise! Thanks Mark!!!!
Pictured: Mark and Amir on one of their Wednesday morning runs in their local area.
Our mission is to enable people from all walks of life, including those with physical impairments, to enjoy the health giving benefits of walking and running in a supportive, social and encouraging environment.