By Simon Watharow
Achilles Sydney graciously sponsored a large contingent of Achilles Melbourne ten runners with vision impairment and seven sighted guides to participate in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival Sunday 17th September 2017. The amazing and generous offer was scoffed down like rump steak in front of a guide dog!
The day finally came to tackle the flight to Sydney and despite nervous doubts due to weather cancellations two days in a row we would not be denied. The team met at the airport with dogs and luggage in tow. The inboard announcement on the Qantas flight-welcoming Achilles on-board was met with a rowdy roar.
Race Day came and the carious matchings met around Sydney at railways stations and around the Harbour Bridge starting point. The 21km entrants were the first away, the Team Adam (guides: Tim and Emmanuel) completely smashed out a great time of 1hr and 30minutes, and Team Kevin (guides: Ellis and Ollie) did an amazing run too, his first half marathon in just over 2 hours.
Simon took off after that for his epic full marathon which lasted 5hrs and 9mins and never did the finish line at the Opera House look so grand.
The teams Maddy (guides Monica and Anne), Brooke (guides Theresa and Julie), Maysa (guides Tammy and Amy), Francois (guides: Markus and Zoe) and Sophie (guides Jacinta and Shawna) enjoyed the 10km race that led them over the Sydney Harbour Bridge with views al around Sydney and with perfect weather - what’s not to love? The last event 3.5km had Hayley (guides Lara and Colin) and Christine (guides Amanda and Edward) doing their first major event, with a speedy Christine-goal smashed into the steps of the opera house - great job!
Sydney really can put on the show, providing the most spectacular harbour in the world with an impressive list of iconic sights and sounds to enjoy while running.
The day was finally done in time to race back and catch our flight back to Melbourne. We would like to acknowledge and thank the amazing support from Achilles Sydney for sponsoring our athletes and Pont 3 for sponsoring our guides. Last, but not least (we're not just saying this!) , another huge thanks also to Deb Christie and Simone Albiston for generously coaching Kevin, Simon, Francois and Maysa to reach their goals. A regimented training program produced some of the finest results at Sydney despite some athletes carrying injuries - we cannot thank you enough!
(Pictured above: left to right - Tammy, Sophie, Maysa and Jacinta pose with their medals in front of the Sydney Harbour bridge)
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.