March has been an incredibly testing time for everyone. We want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has reached out to a fellow Achilles member, offered shopping support, had a good old fashioned phone call, or helped with staying active.
This month's Achilles Melbourne Volunteer of the Month goes to Sarah Allport - supercoach. She has been instrumental in keeping morale high in the Achilles Strength, and wider Achilles Melbourne group. She's provided some practical advice, as well as led some online workout sessions. In normal times, Sarah has been one of our three stalwart coacheteers alongside Deb Christie and Catherine Noone. She's coached a few of our members into long distance runs, and helped shaped our Wednesday Achilles Strength sessions. She also helps with Sunday Coordinating, and the unsung hero of carting Achilles equipment and shirts around Melbourne.
You can find Sarah at Sunday Achilles sessions and leading Wednesday strength sessions (when they're back up and running in real life!) as well as online via our Facebook groups during virtual workouts.
Thank you Sarah, for all that you have done for Achilles Melbourne.
By Peggy Soo
On 1st March some of our Achilles teams went to leafy Warrandyte to run amongst the trees, trails and squawking birds for the Run Warrandyte Running Festival.
We had a number of enthusiastic teams running from 15km to 5km. The course was a mix of trail and road run. This really tested the guiding skills of our guides due to the unpredictable nature of the course of rocks under our feet (lots of high knees and lifting feet).
Along the run it was greet to hear the sounds of birds, running waterfalls and feeling the trees and leaves brush past. We were cheered on by lovely volunteers who gave directions, water and cheered us along the way. Such a different atmosphere to our city streets.
We were also joined by South African blind runner, Carl, who took in the smells and sounds of beautiful Warrandyte. You can check out his experience through the lens of his GoPro, commentary, and Rhiannon's guiding here.
I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to everyone who helped make this event possible. Of course our amazing guides did a wonderful job with a very challenging course. Thank you to Deb for organising logistics on the day and being our support crew and thank you to Heather for all the ‘behind the scenes’ work you have put into this with pairings, registrations and helping us with car pooling.
Caption: Four photos above show (top left, clockwise): Julie walking with Maysa with a hand tether on a sunny day around the Tan with second guide, Eleanor. Julie stands to the side of a BBQ with Amanda and Jacinta; Julie within a group selfie with strength participants with a lake behind the group; Julie guides a new guide (Pam, not so new anymore!) who is blindfolded down a step.
Volunteer of the Month is back! At Achilles, we appreciate our volunteers in all shapes and sizes, so we're bringing back Volunteer of the Month to highlight some of our volunteers who go above and beyond to help Achilles achieve great things.
This month's volunteer of the month goes to Julie Clifton. Congratulations!
Why we love Julie: Julie has been running with Achilles since 2016 and was the first to suggest Janet Lady Clarke Rotunda as a new meeting spot for our rapidly growing club. Julie has always been there to assist when we need in any capacity. She's happy to run, walk, keep our furry friends company, or help train new guides. Julie also trains with some of our athletes in the middle of the week from time to time. Julie has also been instrumental in helping some of our athletes find their feet when they've needed extra mobility assistance to get from A to B, and as a result has helped some of our athletes remain in touch with Achilles. She's also always been keen to lend a hand during community fundraisers (i.e. she's a machine behind a sausage sizzle!).
Where can I say congrats to Julie? Julie can be found on most Wednesdays at strength sessions, and now and again at Sunday training.
From all of us at Achilles, thank you, Julie for everything you do!
Would you like to nominate a volunteer for volunteer of the month? Contact any of our committee, or email Melbourne@achillesaustralia.org.au Please tell us why they should be nominated and where the volunteer does most of their guiding.
A word from the President, Amanda:
…and just like that, another year has run off into the distance and into the next decade. Before we kick-start the 2020 vision-related pun fest that we will without doubt capitalise on, we’re taking this chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements.
The usual suspects of events were run: Wangaratta Fun Run, Run for the Kids, Puffing Billy, Wings for Life, Stadium Stomp, Run Melbourne, Sandy Point, Melbourne Marathon, Eureka Climb with a healthy representation from Achilles Melbourne at each major event. There were new runners stepping up to longer events: William K completing the full marathon at Melbourne Marathon, and Peggy and Penny completing the half marathon at the same event.
Going from strength to strength was our Strength Wednesdays group, finding an indoor location for the winter to continue with their exercising efforts. Yet again, Achilles created opportunities for exercise in a socially inclusive space, with big thanks to our coaches Deb, Sarah and Catherine who made this possible.
Some athletes began to push the boundaries of their athletic ability. Maddy kicked off the year by completing Pier to Pub, with strong rumours for a repeat performance in 2020. Sean also hit the water for the Williamstown open water challenge early in 2019. Adam, Chris and Maddy also tested out their riding skills at the MS bike ride, and also Maddy who pushed her boundaries further by riding with Rhi at Around the Bay. New territory was also explored with Maddy and Sophie testing our their trail feet at Run Forrest, and Eamon and Melinda went exploring to regional runs in Castlemaine and Portland, while Brooke headed to Canberra for the Australian Running Festival. Even further afield, was Sophie, who completed the Rocky Run in the USA, and myself, I caught up with past Achilleans in Birmingham, UK (Stu) and Mannheim, Germany (Martin and Svenja). Achilles Mornington Peninsula also kicked off this year, and is set to return in 2020 for all our south-east and Peninsula-dwelling Melbournians. Achilleans showed their support for the LGBTQI+ community by running alongside the Melbourne Frontrunners at the Pride Run and also hosted a guide session with the Melbourne Frontrunners this year.
While previous years have focussed on participating in mainstream fun run events, Achilles Melbourne has recognised the importance of participating in local social events. Guide Rhiannon has lead the way in forging connections between Achilles and Melbourne Instarunners, as well as the 605 Run Club. Andrew C has also discovered keen enthusiasm for track and field athletics, and now puts his guides through their paces by completing push-ups and burpees during his training runs! Guide Karin, aka “The Plastic Runner” has also flown the inclusion flag, welcoming Achilles athletes, with Peggy being the first Achilles athlete with a disability to participate in a plogging run. Achilles Melbourne also tested out the Trail Bus, heading out towards Lorne in an accessible trail running adventure.
We also wouldn’t be real runners if our continued participation in parkrun didn’t grow. We hosted guide training at Gardiner’s Creek parkrun this year, and held our first parkrun volunteer takeover, which coincided with my own personal parkrun milestone: 25 volunteer runs, of which around 12 have been as an “official” VI guide. Others achieved parkrun milestones: 50 runs for Kevin, Francois, Maysa, and Jordie.
Our biggest event yet, hosting around 20 running teams including two teams from Achilles Sydney and Canberra, and a visitor from Perth, at the Great Ocean Road Marathon. Running events away from home are not always accessible to people with a disability who may have limited resources to attend such events. Seeing everyone have a chance to get to know each other better, share a meal, and have the time and space to cheer each other on confirmed the importance of the social connections that are formed through Achilles. It’s been exciting for me to watch our club grow, both socially and physically. For example, I definitely could not have picked the winner for our second handicap (congratulations, Peggy!). The determination and mutual encouragement of our members, and the commitment and passion from our sighted guides is enough to spur each other on to achieve the best we can for each other. It is for this reason that we will continue our efforts to ensure that Achilles can keep offering life-changing opportunities to lead a lifestyle that is healthy, active, and socially connected.
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
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.