From guided to guide: New York City Marathon trip becomes mission to help others
Tracy Hapi knows what it's like not to give up on her goals.
Her dedication to getting fit and healthy won her a trip to be guided through the New York City Marathon, but the Linwood 44-year-old ended up becoming one of the guides.
Hapi won her trip to The Big Apple by taking part in last year's Summer Starter. The fun run was just one part of what has been a 100-kilogram weight loss journey over four years.
"If I look back three years ago, there's no way I could've even thought of doing a marathon, or the word marathon being anywhere near my vocabulary," Hapi said.
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"I was anxious leading into it, this was my first marathon ever . . . but I just loved every moment of it. I'm so glad I did it."
Tradestaff, Marathon Tours and Achilles International New Zealand sponsored Hapi's trip, which was awarded at the finish line of last year's Summer Starter.
Achilles, which supports those with disabilities or other obstacles to participate in such events, was to guide Hapi through the 42-kilometre New York City Marathon on November 6.
Instead, she became one of five to guide 72-year-old Murray, a prostate cancer survivor also from Christchurch, through the marathon.
Kiri Price said Hapi was among a group of people who organisers had to be certain were stronger than the athletes taking part.
"Being on your feet for 10 hours is massive, especially guiding because you're actually responsible for someone else. Often with guides they don't think about themselves but they think about the athlete and then they suffer at the end."
Hapi said Murray was "a rockstar" as the large crowds read the name printed on his shirt and began cheering for him.
"He's attempted to try and do the marathon about five times. The first time was Hurricane Sandy . . . then he had a fall the next year and he couldn't complete it.
"This time he got himself able and ready. We thought we were going to be out there between 10 and 12 hours, but we finished in nine."
The New York City Marathon was one of many races and running events Hapi has entered in the past 12 months.
It was in 2012, when needing a seatbelt extension on a flight with colleagues, that Hapi decided she would turn her life around.
She would take part in this year's ASB Summer Starter, and said she hoped her journey could help those in the same position she had been in.
"I always make the comment, 'If I can do a marathon, anyone can do a marathon'. I struggle just like everyone else does, but I just persevere."
* Register now to enter the 2016 ASB Summer Starter at summerstarter.co.nz