By Amanda Kwong
Shift. Pivot. Be nimble. Isolate.
Before 2020, these words would be synonymous to gearing our bodies towards being better runners, being agile, growing strong. Now, they hold an obvious alternate meaning related to all the challenges that 2020 and COVID-19 threw at Achilles Melbourne. Nearing the end of our 5th year in operation, Achilles Melbourne was set to rule another year that kicked off with some strong performances from runner-turned-human-fish, Maddy in the Pier to Pub, Andrew C asserting his presence on the athletics track, and Chris C raising a healthy packet of funds running the Two Bays trail running festival. The only thing we thought that COVID-19 was set to ruin was the shipment of our club shirts from China, at which point I remember distinctly imploring our members for patience and sympathy for the plight of those dealing with the virus overseas. Little did we know...
Though, at this time of year, we still focus on the positives. And heck, there were so many that I don't know where to begin.
This year, I saw Achilles Melbourne's online presence grow substantially. While using our online social media and forums was previously about celebrating what members had achieved, and what was to come in future weeks, we instead used this to connect and motivate. With the first lockdown, online challenge after online challenge was thrown at our members who took these up with gusto. A special thank-you to anyone who coordinated a challenge, Amy for rustling up support to get challenge setters involved, Rhi for keeping the online heart-beat fresh and positive, and to all those who participated and egged each other on. We also managed to design our very own Steigen sock with the help of Chris C to keep the merchandise interests of the club in its full Lycra(TM) glory.
Strength Wednesdays moved to an online format, which was a welcome change to traipsing out into the cold, dark nights of Melbourne winter to our much loved Multicultural Hub. With the new format, we were able to include more participants, who otherwise may have struggled to travel to the city for our key cross training weekly fixture. A big thank-you to Sarah A and Deb C for keeping our members strong, and outgoing super coach, Catherine N. It might be worth mentioning here that our top three winners for the Tan Handicap (Claudia S, Peggy S, Maddy S) are all strength attendees. Perhaps we have a secret ingredient for a winning performance?
We also must not forget that some running events actually did take place with the Pride Run and Run Warrandyte a resounding success (a hat tip to coordinator, Heather M). Whether we will be able to coordinate events with our flair of efficiency will remain a mystery into 2021. Perhaps if they involve an online challenge or two... We also acknowledge some incredible running efforts this year. A few particular recent efforts stand out: Jenny B's maiden half marathon in under 2 hours, with only a friend on a bike, two Achilles guides (cheers, Bronson and Wes!), and a shining yellow beacon of Monica W as a cheer squad on a downpour-threatening easing lockdown day. Further, anyone who witnessed our members bossing the battle ropes at our combined nokkon-Achilles International Day of People with Disability event should know to tread carefully around our exceptionally strong members. That, and Claudia S's stunning Tan Handicap win for 2020, where months of keeping fit and active through lockdown truly paid off. Mastermind handicap setter, Adrienne K, did well with scant data available to hold our handicap this year.
And through our lockdown months, our volunteers shone bright. There are many who kept offering to guide, and those who stayed home to keep others safe - both are thanked in equal measure. We highlighted the contributions from our volunteers of the month for 2021: Sarah A, Julie B, Michelle W, Emily H, Sophie T, Amy B, Maddy S, Monica W. We also had a changing of the guard (the committee) with special thanks to outgoing members, Heather M, Peggy S, Amir A, and Nicky H, and welcomed in their place: Simon B, Max C, Joe G, and Sophie T. Those who kept the administrative cogs of Achilles ever ticking, we also thank ongoing committee, Maddy S, Ness S, Amy B, Karen B, Simon W, Rhiannon R.
But of course, the biggest thanks goes to you, our members. Your enthusiasm through lockdown, the Achilles Cup, reaching out to one another, wielding a credit card our way to buy a pair of socks or two, staying home to keep each other safe, and always willing to do what was necessary to comply with the constantly moving feast of government restrictions and hygiene measures. Yes, this year was always going to be tough, but when you've got members of the best running club in Melbourne* (*biased opinion), it makes implementing necessary changes and measures incredibly easy.
Nimble. Ever-shifting. Ready to connect. We'll be here with you again in 2021, in whatever shape it takes. #GoAchilles
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.