From one challenge to the next former Rotorua resident Laura Stuart shows no signs of slowing down - with the New York Marathon in November next on her list.

Ms Stuart, who now lives in Wellington, became a paraplegic after crashing her mountain bike in the Redwoods in February 2016. She wrote about her experiences and journey for the Rotorua Daily Post.

Having completed her first half-marathon last week in 2h13m, she said it went better than expected.

"It was good ... I thought I'd be dragging my arms over the finish line but I could have gone on a few more kilometres. I was a bit nervous going into it."


The Wellington half-marathon was a benchmark to see if the New York Marathon was realistic, Ms Stuart said.

"I only decided to do the New York Marathon at the end of May, early April. People thought I was crazy and I wouldn't be able to do it. I'd run a marathon before so I knew how much training goes into running [one]. I had no idea what it would take using arms to do a marathon."

The race wheelchair she uses for such events is housed at the ASB Sports Centre, so Ms Stuart can only access it around work and on weekends meaning her training on that specific wheelchair is limited.

"I train fortnightly with the Wellington chapter of Achilles New Zealand. It's a volunteer group - the guides take out people with disabilities."

Achilles New Zealand co-ordinator Michael Lloyd said Achilles was founded in New York, with chapters around the world, and the organisations helped out with the running and support of the New York Marathon.

He said 12 disabled athletes - "six on legs and six in chairs" - from Achilles New Zealand would be going to New York.

"The 12 athletes are all on track [for the race], it's the 24th year we've taken a team. [Laura's] a good sort. It's a big event everyone aspires to whether they're disabled or able-bodied. It's hard day out regardless."

While Ms Stuart said it wasn't an immediate yes from her to take part in New York, "when asked I ummed and ahhed about it," she eventually came around to the challenge.


It will be Ms Stuart's first trip to the United States.

"I'll be there a week, it'll give me a bit of time to look around."

She said her mum, Lily Stuart, would go with her as support team.

"[During the race] I'll be able to compare pavements [between New York and Wellington]. By the end of the half-marathon I had my chest on my knees, at least I could look at the different types of colourful [running] shoes."

While New York is a focus, other areas of Ms Stuart's life are also flourishing.

"I'm enjoying Wellington, city life is good ... work [as a lawyer] is going well, it always seems to be busy."