Karen's Story

It’s about 14 hours before I toe the startline for the Tarawera 100km. My day has gone to hell, including a flight diversion to Hamilton. Standing at a bus stop in the rain trying to get to registration, I reach over to lift my handbag and boom! Back spasms. This does not happen to me…This is not good… Arriving at registration, close to tears, Vicki Wolley says ‘let’s find Claire!’.

10 mins later I’m stretched out on the floor being taught how to get myself to the startline the next day by Claire Akin-Smith. Not just get to the startline but how to tell whether to keep pushing on safely, and how to get through the event when things get tough. Claire’s advice was amazing. The techniques she showed me were spot on (and the opposite of what I would have done by myself!). Claire has a really great way of explaining things clearly and simply. And she was empathetic – skilful at balancing the ‘how to push through’ with ‘it’s only one race so take care’ without upsetting a somewhat distraught runner.

6am and we’re off… Okataina aid station, 40km-ish into the race. First person I see as I run through is Claire out there cheering everyone on. A big hug and I’m off again. Thanks to the ‘lie down and breathe’ technique she showed me I make it through to the 60km finish line. 24 hours earlier this felt impossible. And it would have been without her help. If you want someone that is not only great at what they do but genuinely cares about helping people, can’t recommend Claire enough!”