The theme of achievement in spite of adversity delivered at APAC Forum 2016 encouraged Renee Greaves to conquer her own “Everest”.
The patient and whaanau care advisor at Ko Awatea was so inspired after hearing both Janine Shepherd and Ko Awatea director Jonathon Gray’s speak at the Sydney event that a few months later she went on to run a half marathon.
Janine Shepherd’s keynote was particularly resonant for Mrs Greaves. Ms Shepherd, a former Australian skiing champion, was on a bicycle ride preparing for the Olympics when she was hit by a utility van and left a partial paraplegic. In spite of this she went on to gain her commercial pilot’s licence, have three children and travel the world on speaking engagements.
Mrs Greaves herself suffered a near fatal complication of a long term condition in 2011, and could relate to the journey Ms Shepherd faced in recovering and finding a new path forward given her Olympic career was over.
“As Janine retold her story to us, you could see she was back in that Intensive care ward, feeling her pain, seeing herself from above and in that moment I was right there in my intensive care room looking down on myself, seeing myself make that ‘live or die decision’ just as she had on that day 20 years prior.”
In his keynote address, Ko Awatea director Professor Jonathon Gray, had a similar message about finding ways to achieve what seems impossible. His comments about the “Everest-like” challenges in world healthcare encouraged Mrs Greaves to make a bold decision.
“That day I left that [Sydney State] theatre with a plan that I was going to tackle my nemesis – my own Everest climb and that was to conquer a half marathon,” she says.
The day of returning from APAC Forum 2016 Mrs Greaves booked herself into the local half marathon – a mere ten weeks away.
“I set about naming my challenge and owning it, I put it up on my wall at home, my wall in the office and released it on Twitter. There was no going back – I was now accountable.”
Eventually, the day of the event came.
“My defiance kicked in from the 7km mark. I suffered because I had only been able to train for a maximum of an hour at a time and knew this was a long way off the level of training I really needed in order to finish,” Mrs Greaves says.
“I kept breaking up my challenge into 3 km blocks, 11km and I was half way. Once I reached the 18km mark, I knew I had no choice but to run to the finish.
“As I crossed the finish line, there was a sense of achievement, pain, and emotion, joy, and yes, defiance.”