Hannah Pascoe to tackle New York Marathon

GOOD TEAM: Andrew Moreton and blind runner Hannah Pascoe stride out in Queen’s Park, Invercargill, with Pascoe’s guide dog, Cora, nearby.
GOOD TEAM: Andrew Moreton and blind runner Hannah Pascoe stride out in Queen’s Park, Invercargill, with Pascoe’s guide dog, Cora, nearby.

Blind sportswoman Hannah Pascoe is always up for a challenge - the New York Marathon is next.

Pascoe, of Invercargill, decided to compete in the glamour event in November after she and her guide, Andrew Moreton, ran in the Southland Festival of Running half marathon last November.

Moreton, who is Westpac's Southland area manager, based in Invercargill, met Pascoe at the 2011 Surf to City. She rode a tandem bike and said to Moreton afterwards that she would like to compete as a runner in 2012. He offered to be her guide for the fun run.

The pair have continued as a team.

Surprisingly, they only had their first training run together on Saturday.

When competing, Pascoe and Moreton run close together and are linked by a strap attached to one of their arms. Moreton stays vigilant at all times and updates Pascoe on what is around them and coming up.

"I feel safe and relaxed [when running with Moreton]," Pascoe said.

Pascoe trains under the eye of World Health and Fitness gym owner Sid Cumming, who has an outstanding record in multisports, including participation in 10 ironman events.

Cumming modified a treadmill at the gym especially for Pascoe.

"Everyday she comes in for two or three hours," he said.

"She and her guide dog [Cora] know their way around the gym, she's very self sufficient."

Cumming said Pascoe was doing well with the training programme he had given her for the New York Marathon, of 42.2km. He will give her advice on what to eat and drink before and during the marathon.

"She's a lovely person and very well liked," Cumming said.

His gym is an important part of Pascoe's life.

"It's a place you go along to and chill out. It's very good," she said.

In the countdown to New York, Pascoe and Moreton will compete in the Dunedin half marathon in September. Moreton is organising a 5km fun run in Invercargill in October, named Running with Hannah.

The pair are staging a music quiz night to help raise funds for the New York trip.

Pascoe gained entry to the New York Marathon by applying to Achilles International, a world wide organisation founded in New York in 1983. Achilles provide opportunities in sporting events for people with disabilities.

Achilles has chapters in more than 50 countries, including New New Zealand. A goal of all chapters is to have a team at the New York Marathon annually.

Pascoe is one of eight members of the New Zealand chapter competing at this year's marathon. Two others are also blind - Mike Lloyd, of Auckland, and Vinnie Klein, of Taupo. Lloyd's guide will be TV3 news anchor Mike McRoberts.

Pascoe works at Ngati Kapo O Aotearoa, in Invercargill, where her role involves sourcing goods and services on the telephone for Maori who are blind or vision impaired.

Services available include a first aid course for vision impaired people.

Pascoe, 29, became interested in running and improving her fitness about 10 years ago.

"My brothers were into it and I wanted to keep up with them and lose some weight."

Pascoe has had hopes of competing in the New York Marathon since a friend withdrew from the 2006 race.

About 45,000 runners line up every year.

The marathon was cancelled last year because New York was recovering from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. The 2011 winner, Kenyan runner Geoffrey Mutai, ran 2hr 5min 6sec (42km).

Moreton and Pascoe hope to complete the course inside five hours.

"We're not going to win or beat the Kenyan and Ethiopians," Moreton quipped.

All runners can be tracked on the internet by way of timer tags on their shoes.

Moreton, 44, took part in this year's Westpac helicopter appeal bike ride, pedalling 229km from Queenstown to Invercargill.

As an 18-year-old Moreton won a bronze medal at the New Zealand race walking championships. He holds the Southland record for 5km.

Moreton is pleased to be part of Pascoe's goal-conquering.

"She's got no issues, no fears and has a fantastic outlook on life. She sets herself challenges and achieves them."

The Southland Times