Vanessa conquers world’s marathons
When Matamata’s Vanessa Oshima crossed the Berlin Marathon finish line on Sunday, she became New Zealand’s first women to complete all six major marathons.
The 46 year old’s achievement is part of a promise she made to long-time friend Caroline Steer, that she’d run until Steer was clear of cancer.
Before she made the promise four years ago, she had already competed in two marathons in Tokyo, first in 2011 and 2012.
Shortly after, she reconnected with Steer through the Matamata College 100 year reunion Facebook page and learned Steer had three different types of breast cancer. No matter what the weather holds or how she feels, Oshima gets out everyday and runs 5kms.
Shortly after finishing her second Tokyo marathon, she got accepted through the lottery to compete in New York, which was cancelled by Hurricane Sandy. Anyone who had been accepted was eligible to participate in 2013 or 2014.
So in 2014, she and her husband Yasu, also a cancer survivor, completed the New York marathon.
It was through her qualifying time in New York that she was accepted to run in Boston in 2014, the year following the Boston Marathon bombing.
‘‘It was inspiring because there were amputees from the year before all running too.’’
Realising she was halfway through the six major marathons, Oshima decided to compete in the other three. This left Chicago, London and Berlin and she completed Chicago in October 2015.
Oshima’s application through the lottery for the London marathon was declined. However they told her she could run for charity.
She raised $11,000 for the Auckland Cancer Society.
Earlier this year she competed in Tokyo again, pacing a girlfriend, and then applied for Berlin, her final of the six.
It was through the marathons sponsor’s Abbott Industries she discovered she was the first New Zealand woman to compete in all six major marathons.
‘‘I can’t believe a NZ woman hasn’t done it yet. To be the first woman to achieve something is pretty special and hopefully I inspire somebody else to do it and they will do it faster than I did.’’
Steer is taking treatment for her breast cancer, and until that’s over Oshima will continue to run.
Vanessa Oshima, with her Berlin marathon medal.
Vanessa and husband Yasu Oshima.