Teen runs to realise a dream
When Blenheim teenager Vika Tapaevalu goes running, it's not to lose weight. She's chasing a dream.
Vika wants to join the army and make her grandmother happy.
"My grandmother always wanted a grandchild in the forces," she said.
The 18-year-old said running the St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon in May was the first step in achieving that goal.
But running also helped Vika with her anxiety, she said.
Taking part in group exercises gave her the chance to meet new people.
"I'm a little bit shy so this is getting me out there . . . I'm making life changes. I just want to maintain a healthy lifestyle."
Too many girls exercised to lose weight, Vika said.
Vika took part in the first 5-kilometre summer running series along the Taylor River yesterday.
She wanted to be able to run the full half marathon in May and hoped her efforts would motivate other people, regardless of age, to make their life changes, she said.
Vika was referred to the Marlborough Primary Health Organisation's green prescription programme in November.
The organisation's community health services manager, Amaroa Katu, said the 12-week programme used exercise as a way of treating issues such as anxiety.
Regular exercise kept people active so they did not dwell on their problems, she said.
Vika's green prescription co-ordinator Deb Healy first signed her up for a 10km walk at last year's Marlborough Marathon.
At first, the training for that was gruelling, she said. "After a while I got hooked and wanted to do more."
Ms Healy put Vika's name forward for the St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon and to be sponsored by the vineyard.
Vika said she wanted to be thrown in at the deep end.
"If I can do this, I can do anything."
As part of the sponsorship, Vika will be trained by All Blacks strength and conditioning coach Nic Gill.
She was also given new running shoes and gear.
St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon event organiser Chris Shaw said Mr Gill would call Vika today to talk about lifestyle, goals and nutrition.
Mr Gill would draw up an exercise plan for Vika and monitor her progress, Mr Shaw said.
Vika said she was hyped to have an All Blacks coach as her personal trainer.
She was not worried about having to make any drastic changes to her diet, although she was going to miss chocolate, she said.
The Marlborough Express