Daunt­less duo

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - GE­OR­GIA FORRESTER

Vicki Walsh was told she would never run again, but with the help of her best friend, she crossed a half marathon fin­ish line with tears in her eyes.

Six years ago Walsh, 49, was di­ag­nosed with glioblas­toma mul­ti­forme, a form of ter­mi­nal brain can­cer.

The once-avid run­ner had since suf­fered two strokes and now has dif­fi­culty walk­ing.

But for the sec­ond time in four months, Walsh has com­pleted a half marathon in a mod­i­fied wheelchair.

Best friend Ma­ree Mor­peth pushed Walsh’s wheelchair through mud, grass and clay at the Manawatu Strid­ers event on Sun­day to prove that any­thing was pos­si­ble, fin­ish­ing in two hours and 50 min­utes.

Mor­peth and Walsh also com­pleted a Welling­ton half marathon in Fe­bru­ary – the first time they had raced to­gether with the mod­i­fied wheelchair.

Be­fore her di­ag­no­sis, Walsh said the pair used to be ‘‘ab­so­lutely hooked’’ on run­ning. They com­pleted their first com­pet­i­tive race to­gether at the Strid­ers event about 11 years ago.

Walsh and Mor­peth used to run the Manawatu Gorge track ev­ery weekend prior to Walsh’s first stroke in May 2011.

The stroke led to the dis­cov­ery of the glioblas­toma mul­ti­forme and she was given 12 to 14 months to live.

Be­ing able to cross a fin­ish line in a race Walsh thought she would never be able to take part in again, was life-chang­ing.

She said the strength and sup­port of her friend was amaz­ing.

‘‘Not only is Ma­ree run­ning and do­ing some­thing that most peo­ple can’t do, she’s hav­ing to push me.’’

Mor­peth, who now lives in Taupo, came up with the idea of rac­ing with a mod­i­fied chair af­ter re­ceiv­ing a text from Walsh.

‘‘[She] said: ‘I saw these two old ladies who were out run­ning. I wish that could be us’. And I thought, well, maybe it can be.’’

Mor­peth joked that even road­kill passed them on their race, but the point was get­ting out there and do­ing it any­way.

Re­gard­less of any dis­abil­ity, they wanted to en­cour­age oth­ers to give it a go.

‘‘It’s show­ing peo­ple that no mat­ter what, you can still do it. There’s no bar­ri­ers to any­thing. If you just put your mind to it then you can achieve any­thing.’’

DAVID UNWIN/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ter­mi­nally-ill woman Vicki Walsh was told she would not run again. Her friend Ma­ree Mor­peth made sure they could still do half marathons.

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