A group of 17 runners will be representing Tauranga together when they line-up at the start line of the largest marathon in the world, the annual New York City Marathon, this weekend. Among them is Amy Dreaneen - a 40-year-old mother, wife and cancer survivor who sets herself a "cancer-versary" challenge every year. Kristin Macfarlane finds out more about Dreaneen and her fellow runners.
On October 2, 2017 Amy Dreaneen was given the heartbreaking news that she had breast cancer.
She underwent a full mastectomy and reconstruction, and four bouts of chemotherapy.
On January 26, 2018 Dreaneen was given the all-clear from her cancer - a moment she promised herself that she would start "living life to the full and make the most of it".
Though she has check-ups every three months, Dreaneen is happy to say "I'm totally clear now".
Unsurprisingly, her cancer experience gave her a new outlook on "life in general", teaching her not to "sweat the small stuff and make the most of every opportunity". It also prompted her to set herself major physical challenges around October 2, a date she refers to as her "cancer-versary".
"I try to do something every year," Dreaneen says.
Last year, she ran her first ultramarathon and on Monday morning (NZT), Dreaneen will run in the world's largest marathon, the 2019 New York City Marathon, with 17 other runners connected to Tauranga. They include Tauranga's Dawn Picken, Nicola Wakerley, Blake Cloke, Paula Wilson, Kirsten Nicholson, Josie Calcott, Brenda Poutawera, Kelly Taylor, Karlene Blair, Sonya Macefield, Vicki Long, Sheryn Shadbolt and Allan Shadbolt as well as Victoria Wicks-Brown, who recently moved to Auckland and Amy Wright, who works in Auckland during the week but returns to the Bay on weekends, and former residents, Chelsea and Jeff Gardner, now based in Utah, US.
The group left for New York yesterday and will wear their Mount Maunganui Runners and Walkers singlets when they begin their race, surrounded by about 50,000 runners, from the world's top professional athletes to runners of all ages and abilities.
Dreaneen says she has no expectations going into the race but can't wait for the experience.
"I'm really excited, I know it's one part of the whole adventure."
She trains at least six days a week, often running with her fellow Mount Maunganui Runners and Walkers clubmates.
"It can be very social."
While Dreaneen has completed a marathon in under four hours previously, her goal for New York is to enjoy it and not have to spend a lot of time recovering post-run so she can also be a tourist.
It will be her first big trip, which doubles as "a 40th present", without any of her family members. Husband Eddie and their children Maggie, 10 and Max, 11, may be staying in Tauranga when she leaves today but she knows they'll be cheering her on from home.
"They're my biggest supporters."
The runners travelling together:
Dawn Picken, Nicola Wakerley, Victoria Wicks-Brown, Blake Cloke, Paula Wilson, Kirsten Nicholson, Josie Calcott, Brenda Poutawera, Kelly Taylor, Amy Dreaneen, Karlene Blair, Amy Wright, Sonya Macefield, Vicki Long, Chelsea Gardner, Jeff Gardner, Sheryn Shadbolt, Allan Shadbolt.