This year's Hamilton Half Marathon on September 30 celebrates 15 years.
To mark the occasion a commemorative medal will be given to all finishers in the Half Marathon 10km and 5km events.

Participating again this year is Achilles International through their Waikato Chapter.

Achilles is a worldwide organisation which aims to enable people with all types of disabilities participate in mainstream athletics and they will have athletes running, walking, hopping, jiggle jogging, wheeling and pushing all distances in the local event.

Achilles Hamilton representative Peter Loft applauded Hamilton Half Marathon event director Lyn Harris and her team for letting athletes of all abilities take part in the event.


"All our athletes want is to be recognised as full human beings and getting the medal that says they have completed this event helps this happen. It doesn't matter how they do it as long as they are moving forward, getting the medal is a small victory for humanity, and that's what Achilles is all about," Loft said.

Two athletes under the Achilles umbrella are Avantidrome community trikes competitors Joseph Leet and Heather Brand. Heather, 69, has had Parkinsons for 14 years and cried two years ago in her first training session at the Home of Cycling Velodrome in Cambridge because she couldn't ride.

Avantidrome community trikes coordinator and coach Aaron Ure now says of Heather, "She's our top rider. She'll whip round 20km in an hour session. Really moving."

Heather said, "Last year, Aaron suggested I try the 10km which I completed last year. I've got parkinsons so it's a challenge for me to even walk let alone cycle so I reached a high and I felt inspiration to try for the next one. It's a challenge for me to do the half marathon and I'm trying to inspire other people to take up the challenge."

The athlete owns a customised trike and rides 19km from her Karapiro home to Cambridge and back.

"I just love cycling. It helps me so much with my mobility. I have it [my bike] at home and I ride when I want to."

Fellow competitor Joseph has cerebral palsy and says, "It feels good on my bike 'cause it's with Aaron and Achilles Waikato. It's my first ever event. I've been training ever since I got my bike. I'm looking forward to riding."

Coach Aaron said, "this will be Joseph's first event as an athlete because that's exactly what he is. He's doing the 5km and that's his starting point for his athletic career.

"Without the Avantidrome community trikes programme this wouldn't be possible, we actually wouldn't have trikes and riders in the programme and without Achilles we wouldn't have the ability to actually go anywhere.

"They have given us the opportunity to ride with them in the marathons ... and it's a really great opportunity for our riders who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to actually enter mainstream sports competitions."