OPINION: New York Marathon runner Hannah Pascoe is my Southland sporting hero of the year and she provided my most memorable moment in 2013.
I met the fearless blind runner in July when she and her guide, Westpac Southland area manager Andrew Moreton, told me about their buildup to the 42km marathon on November 4.
The famous marathon was Pascoe's goal and she was going to conquer it.
The pair first met while riding bikes in Invercargill's City to Surf Fun Run in 2011. Hannah was on a tandem bike.
In November 2012, Pascoe decided to make an application to run in the New York Marathon, with Moreton listed as her guide. She applied through the New Zealand chapter of Achilles International, a world-wide organisation which provide opportunities in sporting events for people with disabilities.
"I thought we wouldn't get picked ... never expected to get in, but we did," Moreton said.
Hannah was told in April the application was successful. She stepped up her training at Invercargill gym World Health and Fitness and her running with Moreton.
They run together connected by a strap attached to one of their arms. Andrew watches for uneven surfaces and describes what is coming up.
Hannah's determination to run the marathon never waned. Even a stress fracture in a hip several weeks out from the big day didn't dampen her spirits.
They arrived in New York, with Pascoe's stress fracture not 100 per cent. In the early stages of the marathon the Southlanders were running well, but things changed 12km from the finish when Hannah got pain from her stress fracture.
Pascoe and Moreton walked and jogged for the remainder of the race, completing the 42km in 5hr 25min 16sec.
"I was never going to give up," Pascoe said from New York.
Moreton kept a lookout for material that he and Pascoe could trip or slip on during the marathon, such as clothing, paper cups and banana skins discarded by other runners.
An official told Moreton there had been occasions when a runner had gained entry through false pretences. They sign up as a guide for a disabled person and then when the race begins, they take off and leave the disabled person to fend for themselves.
Pascoe will to not let blindness hold her back from doing things and is inspirational in her desire to succeed.
Moreton tells me Pascoe has picked up speaking engagements next year, along with visits to schools to give others an insight into her New York Marathon experience.
- © Fairfax NZ News