Achilles help­ing Feli­cia’s marathon am­bi­tions

De­ter­mined to suc­ceed

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By BRITTANY MANN

Feli­cia Manase may have trou­ble car­ry­ing a cup of tea, but if all goes to plan, she will be car­ry­ing her­self across the fin­ish line at the New York City Marathon in Novem­ber.

The 27-year-old was born with mild cere­bral palsy. She will be the first Pa­cific Is­lan­der and only per­son from the Welling­ton re­gion to par­tic­i­pate as an ath­lete with char­ity Achilles New Zealand’s team.

De­spite her lofty goal, Manase, who is of Samoan and Toke­lauan de­scent, has no his­tory of sporti­ness.

‘‘In col­lege, I was too afraid to play sports in case I was teased or bul­lied. It was a bar­rier I had,’’ she said.

But this year she wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. When she saw Fe­bru­ary’s AMI Round the Bays race men­tioned on Face­book, she started train­ing with­out her fam­ily’s knowl­edge.

Three weeks from race day, she in­formed them of her in­ten­tion to par­tic­i­pate.

She fin­ished the 10km course de­spite only hav­ing run three kilo­me­tres at one time in train­ing.

She was wor­ried she would not make it.

‘‘I knew I had to keep go­ing, but at one point I wanted to give up be­cause my body couldn’t take any more.

‘‘ I was so emo­tional. Even be­fore I saw the fin­ish line, I started cry­ing. I just dropped to the ground as soon as I fin­ished.’’

With that tri­umph un­der her belt, Manase’s col­league at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion alerted her to Achilles In­ter­na­tional, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that helps people with dis­abil­i­ties par­tic­i­pate in main­stream run­ning events.

She con­tacted Achilles’ New Zealand chair­man, Peter Loft, and was signed up for the team that will run the an­nual New York City marathon on Novem­ber 2.

She has been train­ing by pound­ing the streets and hit­ting the gym, and in­tends tak­ing up row­ing in a few weeks’ time.

She will travel with eight other New Zealan­ders who have var­i­ous dis­abil­i­ties, and their five sup­port crew. They must each raise NZ $ 5000 to cover trip costs. Manase’s cam­paign can be found on­line at fundraiseon­ Feli­ci­aManase.

She will be guided along the course by New­stalk ZB’s Niva Re­ti­manu, an Achilles am­bas­sador, as well as two lo­cal run­ners to be selected on ar­rival in New York.

Re­ti­manu met Manase for the first time over Easter and said the two formed an in­stant bond.

Re­ti­manu, also of Samoan de­scent, ran the marathon with Achilles for the first time last year.

She is based in Auck­land, and has been en­cour­ag­ing Manase from afar by text and email.

Manase said she did not see her­self as in­spi­ra­tional.

‘‘I just see my­self as nor­mal. But I want to be a role model for people with big dreams. If I can do this, I can do any­thing I put my mind to.’’

Bound for the Big Ap­ple: Feli­cia Manase, who has mild cere­bral palsy, will run the New York City Marathon in Novem­ber.

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