Christchurch woman fighting the pain for ASB Summer Starter

Jennifer Pope has a number of health conditions but is taking on Summer Starter anyway.
DAVID WALKER/FAIRFAX NZ

Jennifer Pope has a number of health conditions but is taking on Summer Starter anyway.

Jennifer Pope isn't letting the pain get her down. 

For the past six years Pope, 62, has struggled with chronic pain caused by a multiple health conditions, including bone conditions osteoporosis and fibromyalgia, but has signed up for ASB Summer Starter – a fun run and walk used by thousands of Cantabrians as a fitness booster. 

It is part of Pope's plan to regain control of her life and body, and to continue to do the things she loves.

"I've signed up for the four kilometre walk. That was really hard for me. I want to be running the 10km. But I know that I just have to build myself up a little bit at a time. And hopefully next year I can tick that 10km box."

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In the past, Pope has tried to get back out there by throwing her self in full throttle.

"I would go for a huge walk. The next day I would be in so much pain and then I would force myself to go back out again. My body couldn't handle it. I can't do that anymore."

Pope said she had been "extremely active" and fitness played a major role in her life.

A medical event then forced her to spend 13 weeks in a hospital bed, which she never fully recovered from.

"It took a long time after that to get my fitness back up. And then I broke my leg. That really knocked me back."

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In the following years, Pope was diagnosed with a number of different conditions, and had to undergo a series of medical procedures. 

At times leaving the house was a struggle and she went through a period of depression.

"Running made me feel free. When I couldn't even get out anymore, that was really hard. 

"I lost my motivation. I went through a period of depression and wanting to kill myself."

Pope said she was determined to regain control of her happiness.

"I know I probably won't ever be able to do what I use to. But I still want to be able to get out there.

"When I'm up in the hills going for a run or walk I feel so positive. It makes me feel at peace. I feel connected."

This weekend, Pope is joining a group of other Summer Starter contestants from Burwood Physiotherapy's patient team for a walk around the river. 

"We are all training up so we are starting with a ten minute walk. Doing it together helps. It makes it a social thing.

"I'm up for everything that helps me get back out there."

Registrations to this year's ASB Summer Starter are now open, kicking off from the New Brighton Pier on November 27.

"All ages, all races, all shapes and sizes come to celebrate Christchurch, as well as giving them the ability to give back to the community," Fairfax national events manager Brett McMeekin said.

St John has been named as the primary charity, in a significant change to the event's fundraising model from last year.

While multiple charities were involved in 2015, having one main charity meant "a much bigger cheque that can make a lot more of a difference".

* Register now to enter the 2016 ASB Summer Starter at summerstarter.co.nz

 - Stuff

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