Vanessa con­quers world’s marathons

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

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.

SUP­PLIED

Vanessa Oshima, with her Ber­lin marathon medal.

Vanessa and hus­band Yasu Oshima.

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