A few local inspirational types are proving that almost anything is possible with the right attitude. Aaron Ure, Heather Brand, and Joseph Leet are raising the bar with what they can do – challenging themselves to take on the Hamilton Half Marathon on their trikes at the end of September.
It’s the third time for Aaron, second time for Heather and first time for Joseph, with each setting a goal to improve their personal-bests and reach bigger milestones than they have before.
All three locals, who are involved in the Avantidrome’s community trikes programme, have some sort of “limiting” condition, but are proving that the only limits are in the mind.
“Our trikers all have made a choice that they are going to move beyond their disability, and make that effort,” said Aaron, who facilitates the trikes programme. “I’d love to get more people from the community involved, and they don’t have to have a disability… Once you start achieving something, even something small, it’s like, ‘oh, maybe I can go that little bit further’.”
“We’re trying to be inspirational for those with no excuses, we’ve got an excuse, but we get out!” Heather smiled.
The trio, along with fellow Avantidrome triker and stroke survivor Colin Atkin, from Rotorua, are doing a special segment of the Hamilton Half Marathon where they can use their trikes, either across 5km, 10km or the full 21km half marathon. They would love to see more people push themselves and take on the challenge, whether using a mobility aid or their own two feet.
Having practiced on the Avantidrome trikes for over a year now, Joseph Leet, who was born with cerebral palsy, is doing the event for the first time on his new trike donated recently by the Cambridge Lions.
“Joseph’s balance and general fitness has improved a lot since he’s started using the trikes,” said Aaron. “When he first started coming he had a person on either side to help support him. Now he just doesn’t require anyone to support him. … I thought he was going to do the five K, but he’s enrolled for the ten K which is a big step up.”
“I’m very excited about doing it and looking forward to doing it with Aaron and Heather,” said Jo.
After doing 10km last year, Heather said completing the 21km this year would be a “big achievement” and would leave her “on top of the world”.
After 12 years with Parkinson’s disease, Heather joined the community trikes programme a couple of years ago and has had massive improvement since. “When I first started I couldn’t ride a bike at all, and Aaron turned me around,” she said.
Aaron explained that after 30 years as a support caregiver, a few workplace accidents led to him needing a bit of support himself, about ten years ago. “I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity again,” he said of doing the 21km half marathon. “If I can beat my personal best that would be really good, but beyond that, to see more trikes involved in community activities, that would be the icing on the cake for me.”
All three are members of Achilles, an organisation dedicated to supporting people with disabilities into main stream sports competitions. The group exercises weekly in Hamilton and could soon be setting up a branch in Cambridge.