Amie Richardson: Why I'll keep on running

Amie Richardson will be employing her unconventional, forward leaning running style to raise funds for Bowel Cancer New ...
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Amie Richardson will be employing her unconventional, forward leaning running style to raise funds for Bowel Cancer New Zealand.

OPINION: Before my late husband Wayne died, he took an intrepid journey across the South Island on his orange GTS Super Sport 300 Vespa. Riding tracks and dirt roads better suited for 4WD vehicles than Italian scooters, Wayne rode to raise awareness and money for blood cancer research – and to have one last adventure on the back of a bike. 

That Tiny Wheels ride raised $15,000 for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ, and leaving a legacy (in the form of several summer scholarships) for the countless people who would be affected by blood cancer in the future was a proud moment for Wayne.  

Up north, just 18 months before, Ruth Allan and her close friend Julie Collow were planning to run a half marathon in Wellington. The pair had been besties since they ended up in the same university college, shared numerous student flats – and nights out. Ruth, a keen runner, wife to Mark and mother to Harris, Lily and Franklin, had been recently diagnosed with bowel cancer.

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In the end, Julie would run that first race alone because her friend was too sick to make it. She donated the funds raised to Bowel Cancer New Zealand. When Ruth died the following February (2014) – just days before Wayne's diagnosis – Julie started a group of "runners for Ruth" made up of friends and family members. Their next event is the Auckland Marathon. 

Cancer is a word that has come up far too often in my conversations with friends and family over the past three years. It used to be a word I hardly knew, but now my family know far too much about white blood cell counts and chemotherapy cycles than is comfortable. With this much experience, I feel like I should be better at saying or doing things that help. 

But for each new target of this dreaded disease, I am struck by the same fear, anger, sadness and overwhelming sense of powerlessness that knocks me, every time.  

But I'm alive. So this month I've joined the team and I'm running for Ruth, a woman whose selflessness and generosity inspired her friends, children, husband, nieces, nephews and other family members to keep putting one foot in front of the other for the people who can't. I'm running for Bowel Cancer New Zealand – an organisation tasked with helping thousands of Kiwis every year. (New Zealand has one of the highest incidences of bowel cancer in the world.) I'm running for my beautiful, loving siblings, whose feet burn and bodies ache from the surgeries and chemicals designed to kill cancer cells. 

And I'm running for Wayne – whose repeated joke at my forward-leaning running style became one of the last things he reminded me to do: "Keep leaning forward". 

To donate or run for Bowel Cancer New Zealand at the Auckland Marathon, go to aucklandmarathon2017.everydayhero.com/nz/team-bowel-cancer-new-zealand

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 - Dominion Post

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