When Angela Small lines up in the New Zealand Sotheby's International Realty Half Marathon at the Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay Marathon on May 13, she will do so to complete her rehabilitation from a frightening car crash that left her hospitalized with multiple fractures.
Ironically when the crash occurred last September, Ange and her partner Kevin were on the way to Wellington to compete in another half-marathon, the Lower Hutt 3 Bridges event. Small would end up in hospital while good friend and walking companion Vicki Hann took part and relayed her progress via the phone to Small's hospital bed.
This time it is Wellington based Hann that will do the travelling to join her good friend as both will walk the New Zealand Sotheby's International Realty sponsored Half Marathon - and then likely enjoy a wine or two at the Sileni Estates finish line.
Small credits her passion for walking and her resulting fitness in helping her quick recovery, enabling her to take part this weekend.
"I was on my way down to Wellington to meet up with my friend and walking partner, Vicki Hann, who has relocated there, and got taken out by an out-of-control car on a corner. I ended up with 10 fractures to my ribs and four cracked vertebrae. My recovery was very quick due to the fitness that I had at the time - I was probably at peak fitness being ready to compete the next day. I recovered really quickly and joined a really good gym to get back on track and in just over a week I will be walking the Sotheby's Half Marathon with my good friend alongside."
The 54-year-old Medical Receptionist maintains her friendship with Hann despite the distance between them, both training on their own but the two look to meet up once a year to share an event experience - and that includes a little socializing too!
"I have been competing probably for seven or eight years, not seriously, we usually turn it into a girls' weekend. We have probably have done seven or eight half marathons and other events like the Cape Kidnappers Challenge. Keeping fit is the goal of course, and then you're able to drink wine!
"I train twice during the week and a big one on the weekend. I usually follow a training schedule, the weekend training usually involves 12-15 km and walking the Napier Hill. I am feeling absolutely fine for this event, I will pop my shoes on and off I go!"
Her mood is a far cry from the fright of the crash back in September, and some tough days of rehab that followed. Small knows however that without the quick thinking of partner Kevin who was behind the wheel, things could have been much worse.
"My partner (Kevin Weir) was driving and he could see what was going to happen. We were on a straight and he could see the car ahead was losing control. He managed to get us on the grass and slowed down to about 50 when we got hit. The car twisted so my upper body went sideways, that's when the injuries occurred.
"But I can't emphasize enough how important it was for me being fit, that is what has helped my swift recovery immensely. I go to the gym, we cycle, walk, swim, I used to be a gymnast so I have always been sporty."
Small lives in Taradale and will enjoy family support on the day, with son Connor living in Hawke's Bay (older son Tyler lives in Perth). The appeal of the Hawke's Bay Marathon is in the location and the finish line festivities at Sileni Estates, surrounded by a wine and food festival with the best that the region has to offer.
"After the event, we are looking forward to kicking back and relaxing and enjoying a nice glass of wine. This is my first time doing this Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay Marathon, although I have done the Napier one before."
The New Zealand Sotheby's International Realty Half Marathon starts at Pakowhai Country Park and will head west to join the trail heading towards Twyford. Athletes will leave the trail back onto tarmac to wind through Twyford before entering the Gimblett Gravels Wine District. From this point it's largely trail all the way to the end through a combination of the vineyards, farmland and olive groves finishing through the Bridge Pa wine district to the finish line at Sileni Estates Winery.
By the time entries close (May 12), it is expected that 2,000 people of all ages and abilities will line up in the half marathon race, with walkers welcomed alongside the runners and joggers as they share the largely flat and off road trails through some stunning Hawke's Bay countryside.