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.
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.