When Bruce Richardson laces up his running shoes on Saturday to do the run leg of the iconic Hawke's Bay IronMaori event, he won't be aiming for a PB, but rather to share the thrill of triathlon with Bradley McCann - who was born with cerebral palsy.
A lively 26-year-old, McCann lives at Rowan, an Enliven residential disability service for under 65-year-olds managed by Presbyterian Support East Coast (PSEC).
Triathlon Hawke's Bay general manager Richardson has gotten to know him and the other 21 "flatters" through his wife, Ngaia, volunteer manager at PSEC, and decided to share his passion of triathlon with McCann by pushing him in a hi-tech wheelchair for the run leg of the Olympic-distance triathlon.
Richardson is also raising money for the service, to enable people with disabilities to fulfil their goals and dreams and live extraordinary lives.
"Since meeting the flatters at Rowan through various PSEC events it opened my eyes to a different way of life," Richardson, 41, said.
"These people are so full of energy and love participating in things just as much as 'able bodied' people, but unfortunately they don't always get the opportunity. Many people with disabilities obtained them later in life – from accidents or degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis – so they are dealing with the frustration of not being able to do what they used to."
Before pushing McCann on the 10.5km run, Richardson, will have completed a 1km swim and 45km cycle. He is hoping to complete the run leg in 50 minutes.
Richardson has won his age group during previous IronMaori events and is hoping to be among the top 10 in his age group during the run and cycle legs on Saturday.
McCann's wheelchair was imported from the United States six weeks ago and since then the pair have put in nine hours of training together.
"This year it's not about age group titles and PBs for me. It's for other people and other things," Richardson said.
McCann and Richardson don't have a strict training regime as they fit it around family and other life commitments.
However, on their training runs they have become great mates, and Richardson said McCann is a great motivator, yelling "run, run, run" during their practices and loves going fast.
"His communication and movement is limited but if someone is in our way he yells "move!" He's a hard case. The wheelchair is more like a hi-tech adult mountain buggy, if I lean on the handles too much it wants to tip backwards so I have to almost hold the handles up when I'm running. Bradley's safety is my priority, so I've been working with the amazing IronMaori organisers to ensure we mitigate any risks."
McCann weighs 60kg and Richardson said he will have the tyres at maximum pressure.
The brakes are also high quality which reduces the risks to McCann and fellow competitors.
"Running with Bradley gives me so much more motivation," Richardson said.
McCann's mother, Pam McCann, said he is excited to be participating in IronMaori.
"He loves to be part of wider community events. His disability does not define him and his desire to participate in mainstream activities that challenge him are most important to him. He is proud to be representing his friends at Rowan and knows they will all be cheering from the sidelines."
Rowan is based in Taradale and caters for 22 residents across three houses and two cottages.
Its aim is to foster adult choice, responsibility and independence that enhances esteem/mana and supports an extraordinary life.
"I know what a difference this is making to Bradley because each time I see him he grabs my hand and rubs it against his face to thank me – you can't put a price on that feeling! It would be awesome if we could help more people like Bradley participate in events like this," Richardson said.
People wanting to follow the pair's journey or donate to Enliven Disability Services can through their Givealittle Page - Bradley and Bruce's Blitz – IronMaori here we come!
Taradale's Richardson is no stranger to using his events as fundraisers.
When he did South Island's Coast to Coast multisport event he raised $2500 for Auckland's Starship Hospital.
Richardson will be among 1500 starters in Sunday's event which is again a sold-out affair.