Half marathon next on double Olympian's list

17:00, Jun 20 2013
Liza Hunter-Galvan
ON THE RUN: Liza Hunter-Galvan and her daughters Taigen, Haleigh and Amber are taking part in the Wellington half-marathon.

Liza Hunter-Galvan is a good sort.

She is in Taupo to catch her breath but still hopes to win the Wellington half marathon on Sunday.

A soak in the spa should help her niggly hamstring but what about the wind and rain and looking after her three daughters. Not to mention catching up on some lost sleep.

Hunter-Galvan lives in Texas but comes home to Auckland about this time every year to see her parents "who aren't getting any younger" and to run a few long races. She already has the Christchurch marathon in the bag and would love to add the Wellington half.

This week hasn't gone to plan, however. Her daughter Haleigh, 16, was in hospital for two days after an allergic reaction in the bush.

"She was on a drip for a couple of nights," Hunter-Galvan said.


"She is covered in a rash which the doctors believe is the result of a bite or brushing a leaf.

"Hopefully she can run, I'm just not sure."

Haleigh is down to run the 10km. Then there is Amber, 18 now, which is remarkable in itself. She was the worst affected when the Hunter-Galvans were hit by an 18-wheel truck on a Texas highway six years ago.

Amber suffered a broken skull and brain injuries and lapsed into a coma she wouldn't emerge from for more than three weeks.

Amber will run her heart out in the half marathon, but that is half the problem. She has made great strides but effects of the accident remain. She doesn't know how to pace herself properly in a race, but for all that went 1hr 50min in her only previous half marathon.

Her mum says running is the only thing in life Amber is above average in.

"She loves running, Amber, she's addicted to it," she said. "Her injuries were life-altering and they will never heal. She has run one half before, she is capable of running 1.30 but it is hard for her to pace herself. She takes off too hard."

There could be a special moment on the course when mum comes running towards Amber on the out-and-back course.

"I'll be high-fiving Amber in the half."

Along for the ride is 12-year-old Taigen, who may run the kid's mile on Sunday.

Some people still can't forgive Hunter-Galvan for returning a positive test to erythropoietin (EPO) four years ago. She has served her time (two years), admitted her mistake and wants to move on.

"I beat myself up more than anyone else. I was a mess. It was tough, I can't lie, but life goes on.

"Some people want me to disappear, but they can disappear. Some people never get over things."

Hunter-Galvan is 43 and a double Olympian. She ran 43rd in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and could conceivably have a crack at qualifying for the marathon at next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. But she and Athletics New Zealand have locked horns before and she can't be bothered with another qualification process.

"I am burned out with Athletics New Zealand and all that nonsense. I know I'm not welcome and I've been there and done that.

"Michael Aish [former New Zealand athlete] once said ‘I don't want to be the guy at the party that no-one wants'. And I didn't understand it at the time, but I kind of feel like that now.

"I used to fight them, but I'm past it. I'm just happy to do other things on my bucket list, like do some runs in New Zealand."

And one of those is the Wellington half marathon, in which she hopes to run under 1hr 20min.

The Dominion Post