Real Runner Comp Winner conquers new Rotorua Marathon course

sam pic 2

Pic by Marathon Photos

By Rachel Grunwell

She did it!

The winner of the Rotorua Marathon event’s Real Runner competition conquered the new half-marathon on May 5 – & she loved it!

Sam Meade, from Nelson, won the $4500 prize-pack to get her race ready for the event including a race entry and t-shirt, Millennium Hotel accommodation, new Asics shoes, Jaybird wireless headphones, a ThermaTech prize pack, wellness advice from yours truly, Polynesian Spa passes & smoothies – plus coaching by experienced coach John Bowden (who trains lots of elite runners to weekend warriors).

Sam won the prize package after a heart-tugging entry bowled over judges. Sam had been through a tough year, losing loved ones, and she wanted to return to running to help her body & mind heal. The challenge was a great thing to focus on and helped to uplift her outlook.

Here’s how the race went in her words below. Sam, the whole Rotorua Marathon team is so proud of you!!!!

rotorua marathon comp logo

By Sam Meade 

Wow, where do I start, what an amazing weekend!

The atmosphere was incredible, a super supportive vibe from the organizers and other competitors.

On the Friday night I was crazy nervous. We went to the Pig and Whistle, had a massive steak and salad (which was awesome!), and then settled in for a quiet, early night. Did not sleep much.

Saturday morning was good, as I didn’t have much time to get myself too worked up before the run. I met coach John for a quick chat before the race started. I settled in at the back of the pack, and felt quite relaxed as the cannon sounded. Everything went pretty much to plan, I started out extra slow, and it was very enjoyable, looking around, taking in the sights and smells of Rotorua. Then we hit the hills. And although I had to work hard, I managed to keep jogging, and the feeling of accomplishment that washed over me every time i reached the top of a rise gave my energy a wee boost. I loved the course. I love being off road, and was fortunate to have a few challenging hills at home to train on, so it wasn’t a complete shock to the system.

At about the 12km mark, the chaffing set in…… at that point I just had to put my head down and keep going.

Coming down out of the forest was great, I managed to pick up my pace a bit and cruise down to the main road. The last 3kms were a slog. I was getting sore and tired, but I knew I was almost there. I held on, and managed to finish strong in 2:47:55. Super stoked!

My weary legs were thankful to have a soak in the hot pools at the Polynesian Spa afterwards.

Saturday night we stayed in the Millennium Hotel with an awesome view looking out over the lake. The room was very comfortable, and the buffet breakfast Sunday morning was to die for! Amazing!

The whole experience in Rotorua, and the training/coaching package leading up to the event, was incredible. I am truly honoured to have won this prize, and I feel so much healthier and happier for it. I plan to continue running, and hopefully I will enter another event later in the year. Through this experience, i have found my passion for running again, and for that I am so grateful.

Thank you to all the people/brands that sponsored this prize package, and especially thank you to Jo and Rachel for being so great and organising everything that made my weekend in Rotorua one I will never forget. And a huge huge thank you to my coach John Bowden, who encouraged me and pushed me to achieve my goals. You guys are amazing!


Inspired Health is “run” by Rachel Grunwell: Fitness consultant, yoga teacher, Marathoner X19, writer for Run4YourLife magazine, plus the lifestyle magazine, Good. 


Rachel's Blog Award-winning writer & recipe creator, magazine columnist, wellness ambassador, yoga teacher & multi-marathoner.


Follow InspiredHealth on Facebook & Instagram 

Final Prep Tips for The Rotorua Marathon Event – from An Elite Coach

john headshot


By Rachel Grunwell

It’s less than a month to go now before the Rotorua Marathon event on May 5. So I turned to top coach John Bowden for some tips for final prep and training for all those taking part in this epic event.

John is an absolute run legend. He’s a former elite athlete himself and former teacher (Auckland Grammar by the way). He competed for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, and has been an Athletics New Zealand selector and coach. He now trains a lot of elite runners in NZ who win marathons, half-marathons and represent NZ at the Olympics. He trains Lisa Cross who won the Waterfront Half Marathon in Auckland on April 8. He also trains weekend warriors like me (bless him)! And if you didn’t think the bloke was a legend already, then you will after I tell you he is the head of Achilles NZ (a charity that helps Kiwis with disabilities to participate in run events). John will be at the Rotorua Marathon event cheering on some of his runners.

Here are some of his top tips leading up to the Rotorua Marathon event. Take note, these are gold! Better still, really listen to him. We are lucky to tap into his knowledge.

Marathon Tips by John Bowden from The Road Running Collective:

  1. Hydration
  • Despite the weather now cooling and that we are into Autumn there is a tendency not to drink as much either during your day or on your training run… DON’T STOP hydrating. So, during the day the famous 8 glasses of water per day is still a good guide to go to (or two litres)-if anything by doing this you will not be as tired by the end of the day.
  • On your training runs (usually the long ones) it pays to practice drinking what you will use on race day. You can also practice taking water at various spots on your long runs these next 4 weeks (by either having someone on the side of the road handing them out to you, or you can place them there the night before in a secret and safe place). Practice makes perfect when it comes to these four weeks of hydrating yourself…
  1. Recovery & Rest
  • This last month it might pay to concentrate on the little things that might make a difference for your performance on race day-so get some extra sleep, earlier nights, stretch a bit more and treat your self to a weekly massage perhaps.
  1. Equipment check
  • Make sure your training shoes are in good shape for the last month of training. Do not try and get through this critical time with a well worn pair of shoes. Or if you are concerned about them lasting… then change them now! 
  • If you are going to wear a different pair of shoes for the race (lighter ones usually) then practice using them on your last few long runs.
  1. Tapering and feeling good
  • Usually you begin to do less training from 14-10 days out so be careful during this time as you will start to feel better and run faster. Be in control in this phase and listen to your body and hold yourself accountable that you will train with the same intensity and pace that you have previously been doing during the past few months.
  1. Your last long run
  • This should be done about three weeks out with a moderate long run say 21km two weeks out before you begin your taper. It is better to be a little underdone than overcooked for a marathon race – so be smart.
  1. Head Smarts
  • Be confident in your self as you have done all the hard work with a month to go. Talk yourself up, be positive, be inspired by reading or watching achievements of others in any areas of life.
  • Work on your race strategy and have plans A, B and C for race day

To enter the Rotorua Marathon event click HERE

To find out more about John and his coaching click HERE

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon event ambassador, Award-winning writer, ‘Good’ magazine wellness columnist, wellness writer for Run4YourLife running magazine (in Australia and NZ), multi-marathoner (19 marathons at the last count), yoga teacher & Polynesian Spa ambassador (co-leading health retreats in Rotorua).


See other inspiring stories, recipes and go in the draw for health-inspired giveaways by following Rachel via InspiredHealthNZ’s Facebook and Instagram

This blog was kindly sponsored by the peeps behind the Rotorua Marathon event #sponsoredcontent




Elite Runner at Rotorua Marathon will be running in her parents footsteps

olivia burne

Elite Runner at Rotorua Marathon will be running in her parents footsteps


By Rachel Grunwell

An elite female runner doing her first ever marathon at the Rotorua Marathon event is a potential front-runner who could take out the winning title.

When Olivia Burne, 26, runs in the May 5 event, she will also be following in her parent’s footsteps. And she’s gunning for a podium spot too like her dad…

Olivia, who is an ASICS brand ambassador and works in marketing and communications in Auckland, won the half-marathon distance at the Rotorua Marathon event last year with a time of just over 1hr 16mins.

She decided to run her first marathon at Rotorua this year for many reasons.

Her parents success at this event was, of course, an inspiration.

“My parents have both run the Rotorua Marathon in their early 20s. “My mum completed the full marathon distance in 1981, recording 3:19 – that was one week before she married Dad. My Dad ran the full marathon five years in a row, with his top finish being a 2nd in 1979. His time was 2:25.35 – I’m not looking to break that record any time soon!” she says.

Burne says her running parents have been really encouraging of her running career and great support.

Asked if her parents have high expectations of her potential finish time, Burne quips, “I think Mum would be quite happy for me to beat her time and I think Dad would just be impressed if I beat his!”

She says she also chose the Rotorua Marathon event too as her first marathon because of the wonderful history of the event and because it is known as one of the highlights of the racing calendar.

“It’s also a beautiful setting. The cultural significance of Rotorua… the beautiful lake, the Redwood Forest, and the (Polynesian Spa’s) thermal hot pools make the whole running and recovery experience really special,” she says.

She also adds: “The race has an enormous history in New Zealand. Most runners from the 60s onwards would know the Rotorua Marathon (or Fletchers Marathon, as it used to be known) as one of the highlights of the racing calendar. Thousands would show up for the event and it attracts some of the best runners in the country. “

Burne says she is training hard for the event by doing lots of hills and miles out in West Auckland.

“I work in Hillsborough, Auckland – a suburb that’s aptly named,” she jokes.

She is training around the hilly and challenging Waiatarua course as much as possible. She too is clocking some high mileage (150km plus per week under her coach, Barry Magee.

Burne says she is looking forward to the marathon challenge and taking on a challenging course.

Her dream in the future is to be able to go onto the Olympic Games in the marathon distance in the future.

She has completed three years to date of racing the half-marathon distance.

Join Olivia and many others! Enter the Rotorua Marathon event too – there’s a distance for everyone. CLICK HERE

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Rotorua Marathon event ambassador, Award-winning writer, ‘Good’ magazine wellness columnist, multi-marathoner, yoga teacher & Polynesian Spa ambassador (co-leading health retreats).


See other inspiring stories, recipes and go in the draw for health-inspired giveaways by following Rachel via InspiredHealthNZ’s Facebook and Instagram

This blog was kindly sponsored by the peeps behind the Rotorua Marathon event #sponsoredcontent

Pear Spelt Muffins recipe – & the low-down on the new book ‘The Eczema Detox’

eczma book

Go in the draw to win a copy of this book via a comp on InspiredHealth’s Facebook & Instagram

By Rachel Grunwell

Up to 1 in five Kiwis are affected by eczema. It’s an important topic to the public.

It’s also something that has affected my sister, Bex, who is one of the people I love most on this planet. So through her, I’ve heard over the years about how painful this can be and how the flare-ups can be intensely painful and even disable self-confidence (even when you look as beautiful as Bex).

My sister has tried everything over the years for relief. Absolutely everything. It has been a long-running battle that has felt paralysing at times. Thankfully, this Summer she has felt the best she has ever been in over 30-years. This is thanks to the hottest Summer in Gisborne, using steroid creams, and thanks too to some help from Be Pure’s office, but also to a book penned by “eczema nutritionist” Karen Fischer which advises which foods to eat, and avoid, when you suffer from eczema. My sister also buys Karen’s magnesium supplement too which she thinks is amazing for sleep and her wellness.

So when I got Karen’s latest wellness book across my desk, ‘the eczema detox’, I instantly thought of Bex and how books like this are so important. They’re literally the difference between a pain free life, or not.

This book is full of life-changing nutritional information and advice, articulated through 3 eating programs. Both Karen and her daughter, Ayva, have suffered from skin problems in the past but now live eczema-free from following Karen’s meal plans.

As for Bex, she is great at the moment, but she does dread Winter when the inevitable flare-ups return. She’s also still searching for a way to get off steroid creams… But she says the changes she has made around foods to avoid, or seek out, through Karen’s books “has helped to change my life”.

I personally love this book too from the perspective of not having eczema. The recipes are absolutely amazing and so I’m sharing one gem below.

Meanwhile, here are Karen’s top 12 foods for eliminating eczema.

mung bean sprouts

flaxseed oil 

red cabbage



spring onions





There’s so much advice in the book that is gold too including all those foods to avoid for eczema sufferers.

Here’s that amazing recipe below to get you started. If you try it, please let me know.

karen's muffins


Pear Spelt Muffins 

Makes 12 muffins, preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes 

• 1 egg (or use Egg Replacer, p. 211)

• cup real maple syrup or maple sugar (see ‘Eczema-friendly sweeteners’, p. 52)

• 1 cup organic soy milk (see ‘Non-dairy milks’, p. 54) 

• cup Parsley Oil (p. 134) or rice bran oil 

• 2 cups spelt flour 

• 4 teaspoons baking powder (wheat-free)

• 2 large ripe pears, peeled and diced (not Nashi/Asian or Yapears)


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place paper patty pans into the holes of a 12-cup muffin tray (or alternatively grease the tray holes with a little extra rice bran oil). If using Egg Replacer make it now. In a small food processor, blend the egg (or equivalent), maple syrup and milk until smooth. Then, while the motor is running, open the chute and slowly drizzle in the oil and blend well until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and mix. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and briefly mix using a large spoon. Then stir in the pear. Spoon the mixture into each muffin cup, ensuring each is about three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden on top. Test with a toothpick to see if cooked through.


• These muffins can be stored in the freezer for up to three months.

• If you have tested egg during the FID Program (in week 3) and there were no adverse reactions after four days then you can use real egg in this recipe.

• If you are gluten intolerant, use rice milk or ‘malt-free’ soy milk and gluten-free self-raising flour instead of spelt flour. If you are using gluten-free self-raising flour, don’t add baking powder.

• If you are following the Eczema Detox Program, you can sprinkle the muffins with chia seeds


Extracted from The Eczema Detox by Karen Fischer available from and wherever good books are sold.


Inspired Health is run by Rachel Grunwell. Follow her via InspiredHealth’s Facebook & Instagram

InspiredHealth is run by Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist, magazine wellness columnist & healthy recipe creator, wellness ambassador, yoga teacher & marathoner


Polynesian Spa announces homegrown ambassador

polynesian spa

Pictured: Rachel Grunwell at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa

ROTORUA, Thursday 25th January 2018:  Health and wellness expert Rachel Grunwell, who grew up in Rotorua, has been announced as the new brand ambassador for New Zealand’s leading hot spring and luxury spa experience, Polynesian Spa.

A mother of three, Rachel is a yoga and meditation teacher, wellness magazine columnist, keynote speaker, healthy recipe creator and runs the Inspired Health website and social media channels with a combined fan base of around 20,000 Kiwis.

Polynesian Spa chief executive Gert Taljaard says they selected Rachel to be their ambassador because of her influential health and wellbeing background, but also because Rotorua is very close to her heart. She was born and raised in Rotorua and even once worked with the complex as a massage therapist. 

“It’s great to have an ambassador who has had a lifetime relationship with Polynesian Spa having spent her childhood years growing up enjoying our pools and her early career working as part of our team.  Having authentic ambassadors on board is very important to us” says Taljaard.

As brand ambassador, Rachel will be inspiring people to lead a naturally healthier lifestyle by integrating the benefits of mineral bathing, spa treatments and mindful moments into their wellness regime.

“I’m excited to be part of the Polynesian Spa family. I can’t wait to share real-life and science-backed wellness wisdom to help people to be healthier and happier. I’m looking forward to being back in Rotorua more regularly and it’s great to be collaborating in an industry which I am passionate about” says Grunwell.

Ironically one of the two exclusive alkaline and acidic springs that feeds into the 28 pools that Polynesian Spa boasts onsite is named the Rachel Spring and the new ambassador has been excited to rediscover the history of the therapeutic and rejuvenating waters.

“What makes Polynesian Spa so unique is the access it has to these two wonderful springs. The alkaline spas from the Rachel Spring are hot and relaxing and leave your skin with a silky feeling while the Priest Spring relieves and rejuvenates tired muscles, aches and pains. It is very uplifting for the soul,” says Rachel.

Rachel’s first job is to assist with developing a wider range of healthier choices for the new 88Ra Café menu and will host the highly successful Mindful Moments Retreats during the year.

Mindful Moments Retreats will be held on the following dates:

Saturday 9th June – Sunday 10th June

Saturday 11th August – Sunday 12th August

Saturday 10th November –  Sunday 11th November


To find out all the details check out the Polynesian Spa website. Click HERE

Rachel Grunwell is a wellness magazine writer, yoga teacher, health blogger, healthy recipe creator for Good magazine and an ambassador for the Achilles charity which helps Kiwis with all kinds of disabilities to participate in events.

For wellness inspiration, follow Rachel via Inspired Health’s Facebook & Instagram 


Te Atawhai Retreat: Nurture, Nourish & Thrive


te atawhai main pic

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist. Good magazine’s wellness columnist & smoothie chick. Multi-Marathoner. Qualified Yoga Teacher. Blogger. Mum. The order of importance is in reverse.

Rachel’s mission is to inspire Kiwis to live healthy and happy. Follow Rachel via InspiredHealth’s Facebook page & Instagram 


Nurture. Nourish. Thrive.

These are the beautiful words that underpin the mission of Te Atawhai retreat, nestled out in the countryside at the foot of Mount Te Aroha in the Waikato area, in the North Island of New Zealand. It’s about two hours’ driving from Auckland, or about an hour drive from Tauranga.

te atawhai house

Te Atawhai specialises in offering a four-day “wholeness retreat” (although they offer one-day retreats at request too). Here you can learn, grow and flourish by learning healthy habits based around a blend of movement, mindset, real foods, and rest.

The retreat is run by an all-women team including: Rebecca, who worked for many years as a nurse in the mental health sector; Sherryll, who has 20+ years experience as a personal trainer; Well-known NZ fashion designer and businesswoman Annah Stretton. Rebecca and Sherryll run the retreats generally, while Annah drives the business-side of the venture and often joins guests for a meal.

Each of these three women have inspirationally transformed their own lives to be healthier and happier in recent years and so want to help others rise up in the same way too.

te atawhai retreat leaders

Pictured, Sherryll, left, and Rebecca, right.

I experienced Te Atawhai in December 2018 and felt the retreat was heart-led. Rebecca and Sherryll care about the guests and keep numbers relatively small – so everyone gets incredible personal attention.

The absolute magic in Te Atawhai truly is the people. They care about what they do and put their hearts into helping their guests. They are heart-connected to those who come to this place to re-set. 

Te Atawhai is not a bootcamp-style environment. You are challenged, but not pushed. You can go at your own pace and opt in challenges at the level of intensity that feels right for you. It’s not a yoga retreat – there is stretching in the morning, but it’s about mindful movement and starting the day inspired, rather than learning difficult yoga poses. This makes the retreat accessible and relatable to most people.

There is no alcohol, caffeine, wheat, dairy or refined sugar on the menu here, but rather nourishing, healthy, seasonal and real foods that are delicious. You will feel full at every meal too (and I do like to eat a lot and so I’m a good measure for this!) This is not a retreat about weight-loss, but rather the focus is wellness. I really love this – because the emphasis is about building healthy bodies and minds.

Karissa is the whizz in the kitchen and is passionate about serving  seasonal and nurturing food that’s truly delicious. The flavours she creates are memorable. She picks fresh produce from the garden daily to add to meals. One guest kept saying “I can’t believe healthy food could taste so good”.

te atawhai muesli

Check out this healthy breakfast. This was one of my faves.

The retreat is run from a large house in the countryside, where cows are thy neighbours and you get to see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

te atawhai view 2

Check out this view from the bedroom I stayed in. This is bliss.

It’s like a home-away-from-home, rather than a fancy-pants, minimalist resort. There are books scattered around the house to read, a pool, health teas always on offer and you get to breathe in fresh air, unplug from technology and escape a hurried life and set goals for a healthier way forwards.

Each day starts with a gong to rise (you are encouraged to leave your watch in your suitcase for the four days). Then it’s a swig of apple cider vinegar (which boasts many health benefits), some gentle stretching with Sherryll and a sit-down breakfast. A challenging walk is then on the agenda – and each day you go to a different location for memorable scenery. An absolute highlight was climbing to the top of Mount Te Aroha (it took me 2.5-hours to get to the top at a gentle pace and 1.5hrs to come down). Half of the group opted in for this, while the rest of the group felt the half-way point was a challenge right for them.

At the top of Mount Te Aroha, I felt on top of the world. You can see the sea.

te atawhai - mount te aroha


You can also see green for miles miles and even the hump of Mt Maunganui far in the distance (in the far right of the picture). I wished I could sit there for hours. This, to me, is the definition of magic.

Being in nature is a therapy in itself, plus there are the movement benefits of course!

After walking, there’s a spa dip at nearby mineral hot springs (and you can opt to pay for a beauty treatment if you wish). Then in the afternoon there is an educational health seminar and some free time to relax. Then it’s a sit down chat for some reflection on the day, dinner and then free time before bed.

te atawhai food dinner example


On the website, Annah Stretton writes “Come to Te Atawhai to Nurture, Nourish, and THRIVE”.

Rebecca spoke memorably about learning “awareness” – “which is a key to setting you free”.

I’d also say come along too to this home-away-from-home to connect with these incredible women. Here you can learn tools to inspire you to live your best life.

* Watch a quick video interview with the retreat’s chef Karissa about nourishing kai. Click HERE

* Rachel was kindly invited to review the retreat as a professional wellness blogger. 

The Running Yogi & Warriors Captain

canterbury roger and rach stretch

I’m an ambassador for the John West 12km Traverse at the Auckland Marathon event on October 29. Here’s week two of my blog that features on Good magazine too. Here I get some top fitness tips from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, rugby league player, Vodafone Warrior Captain and Canterbury ambassador. To see the rest of the blogs in this series on Good magazine find the link at the bottom of this blog.

 By Rachel Grunwell

Mind-set and motivation matters. It doesn’t matter what kind of sport or fitness activity you do, your mind drives your motivation..

I did a fitness workout with Roger at Health101 in Auckland – trailling the new Spring season of the Canterbury sports clothing line. Needless to say, I got the questions covered before the workout. Afterwards, I wasn’t useful for much. Other than gasping….

Strength work is a key to Roger’s power on paddocks. Strength work is also a key part of my run training too. Although the crossfire-style work out we did took strength work to a whole new level. Handstand push-ups anyone? Er, yeah, I suck at those too. 

Anyway, here are Roger’s top fitness tips. They don’t suck. They’re worth noting by anyone taking on the 12km John West Traverse event – or wanting to “be their best”.

  1. Train right. Make sure your training is specific to the event. i.e lots of power presses in the gym might not be best in this instance! Be sure to mimic the event into your training as much as possible. 
  2. Nutrition. A healthy diet plays a huge role in success in sport. Especially for game day. On game day I always ensure I have a healthy breakfast and lunch with loads of carbs and protein to get me through a game of footy. I usually have eggs on toast with avocado for breakfast. Lunch is something like chicken or salmon (white meat) with loads of veg. And probably a big smoothie.
  3. Sleep! It’s so important to ensure you get 7-8 hours sleep each night to allow your body to repair and rest before the next big training day or event. I am a big believer in breathing techniques for those nights when I find it a bit tricky to get to sleep. And there is a great app called Mindfulness I like to use every now and then.
  1. FUN! This one is huge. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing. Otherwise there is no point putting your body and mind through the pain and stress of training if you are not enjoying it!
  1. Support. Surround yourself with people who will inspire you and keep pushing you. I am lucky in my team environment to have such an amazing support network. We all know each other so well and can feel when one of the boys is a bit off. We rally together to get them back on track. So having training buddies, family, husbands, wives to keep you on check is a great idea! You will always have those down days, so don’t worry.

Rachel is Good magazine’s wellness columnist. She teaches yoga-for-runners and blogs on website You can also follow her on 


and Facebook

Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the Crossfit workout

canterbury frong jump

I think I was a frog in a pervious life chuckle..

canterbury plate lift rach

Plate lifting is good for the arms…

canterbury roger and rach stand

Still standing at the end. Or is Roger just propping me up?

Follow the rest of my blogs in this series via Good Magazine.


Wheelie Man takes on ASB Christchurch Marathon

WIN! Go in the draw to win an entry into the Christchurch Marathon (winner chooses the distance). Enter via Inspired Health Facebook or Instagram pages. ps share the post to nudge a mate into entering too!

Paraplegic Ian Walker will use the might of his arm muscles to power himself on a hand-cycle through the ASB Christchurch Marathon on June 4. He tells Rachel Grunwell the “whys” behind tackling the difficult challenge.

ian buller pic (low res)

“Never allow what you cannot do to stop you from doing what you can do.”

That’s why Ian Walker will be out amongst the chill and crowds of the ASB Christchurch Marathon course on June 4. It’s also his motto for life.

“Life can get tough physically for me at times. But you’ve got to persevere,” says the 54-year-old Cantabrian football referee coach. “The secret is to keep trying and never really give up”.

Another strong reason for doing the event is: “It’s about being accepted… accepted as part of the community. I want people to know that being in a wheelchair shouldn’t make me less of a person and that I shouldn’t be treated any differently… I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m no different…

“Look, it’s nice for people to offer to help me sometimes, but 99 times out of 100 times I’ll say, ‘thanks, but no thanks’.”

Ian would love to finish the event in under 2-hours. However, he knows this might be tough to achieve given the uneven terrain near the Red Zone. This area will slow him down.

This will be Ian’s third hand-cycle-powered marathon. He did the New York Marathon three years ago and the Buller Gorge Marathon earlier this year.

It will be his 13th marathon. He ran 10 marathons when he was able-bodied. His fastest run time was clocked at 2hr 37min in Buller in 1999.

The moment Ian’s life changed forever was at 7.30am on a bright and sunny say on December 6, 2006.

He was cycling over a bridge on the Napier/Hastings Highway at 50km when he went head-first into the back of a truck-and-trailer.

The injuries were devastating and included a spinal cord injury and concussion, just to name some.

“The helmet saved my life. I was lucky; I could’ve been a tetraplegic”.

In everyday terms, Ian has no feeling from the chest down and is wheelchair-bound. He does have some movement in his left foot.

“For some time, on reflection, I felt quite bitter about the accident. However, I’ve come to accept it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that culminated in a devastating conclusion”.

He spent months in the Burwood Spinal Unit in Canterbury recovering afterwards. That’s where he first saw that sign – his adopted motto. It’s on a plaque in the kitchen that reads:

Ian's motto correct


Ian wishes he could reverse that day, rewind the clock, freeze that moment in time and change it somehow.

“Not a day goes by where I wish I could walk. I’m 6ft2 and I can’t reach stuff on the tops of shelves at the supermarket. It’s the little things that are so hard. But I live with acceptance better now”.

It has been a hard road to recovery including nine major operations, pain medication therapy, physio and regular medical checks. He can do “every day” things.

That includes powering his hand-cycle at speed. He has been training for the Christchurch event using his hand-bike, but also goes to the gym and swims (using an inflatable belt around his middle).

He credits his partner Louise as his anchor and “constant in life. Without her “most of what I do and achieve wouldn’t have been possible”.

Speaking of that word “possible”. Ian says by participating in the ASB Christchurch Marathon, he hopes to show other Kiwis with disabilities that events like the marathon are possible to take part in.

“I want to show that being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean the end of getting out and being involved in the community and be involved in events like this. It’s for runners, walkers, everyone. We are all there for that finish-line feeling”.

The ASB Christchurch Marathon is a fundraiser for Ian’s wish to tackle the NY Marathon Achilles this November. Please consider donating. CLICK HERE



Ian mastering a cool “selfie” above. 

+ Find out more about entering the ASB Christchurch Marathon. Click HERE.

Rachel's Blog She collaborates with some of NZ's biggest brands.

Blog by Rachel Grunwell who will be running her 18th marathon at the ASB Christchurch Marathon. She is the official blogger for the event. Follow her via the Inspired Health’s Facebook and Instagram pages for more inspiring stories, wellness advice, recipes and awesome health-inspired giveaways.

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Writer, Good magazine’s wellness columnist + smoothie chick, passionate marathoner (Christchurch Marathon will be her 18th marathon) & yoga teacher (who teaches yoga-for-runners). Follow her via Inspired Health’s Facebook & Instagram for lifestyle inspo, recipes & giveaways.

Meanwhile, read about another inspirational ABS Christchurch Marathon participant Blair Williamson (pictured below) who is going for a Guinness World Record attempt. Click HERE. 

Blair & Rubik's cubes


Bionic Woman walks the Gazley Volkswagen Marathon event for The Heart Foundation


Pictured: Helene Kay

WIN: Go into the draw to win a free entry into the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon event. Enter on our Facebook or Instagram pages!

By Rachel Grunwell

Helene jokes she’s kind of like ‘A Bionic Woman’ – she’s in part made of titanium. But that won’t stop her from entering the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon event on June 18 and fundraising for The Heart Foundation .

The 59-year-old Kapiti Coast mum (and soon to be grandma) suffered from rheumatic heart disease a year ago. She was so overwhelmed by the care and help she received from The Heart Foundation, that she wants to “give back” now that she is well. She is raising money for the foundation by walking the 21km distance at the Wellington Marathon event and has so far raised over $2300.

Helene says her world was turned upside down last year. She had been feeling unwell, and just generally fatigued, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint why this was the case for quite some time. Finally she had an echocardiogram and doctors discovered she had rheumatic heart disease, which was traced back to having undiagnosed rheumatic fever when she was very young.

Two heart valves were failing and so she needed open heart surgery to replace these with mechanical valves. Hence, she reckons she’s a bit like the Bionic Woman (a series based on the adventures of Jamie Sommers, who is rebuilt bionically and goes on dangerous missions).

Helene’s heart ticks loudly with the mechanical parts and you can hear it if you stand close to her, she says. She jokes she will become ‘The Ticking Nana’ when she becomes a grandmother for the first time (her grandchild is due in June).

Since her health issue, she has been slowly rebuilding her strength and fitness and says an 8-week exercise course post surgery run by the foundation had been integral to her great recovery.

To get even stronger, she set the goal to walk the Wellington event so she can get back to her fitter self (she recently returned to work teaching exercise classes again). She says her goal for the event is simply to finish. And she’s ecstatic that one of her two sons, Devon, will join her on this mission.

She has fundraised the biggest amount for the foundation through this event to date – and credits this to some wonderfully generous friends.

She also hopes to raise awareness that people should seek help and get thorough check-ups when they are feeling unwell.

Helene wants to thank her husband Paul, and other family and friends who have helped her on her heart journey. She couldn’t have done it without them. She particularly credits friend Lyn for inspiring her to walk most days to help her on her journey back to wellness.

Helene is looking forward to reaching the finish-line at the Wellington event, saying “it will feel like the end of my rehabilitation and the beginning of a new me”.

  • Join Helene by entering the Wellington Marathon (and run or walk for charity too if you choose). Click HERE
  • If you’d like to sponsor Helene’s fundraiser click HERE. The Heart Foundation is NZ’s heart health charity leading the fight against heart disease. They fund research, promote healthy lifestyles and aim to advance cardiac care in NZ.


Blog penned by Rachel Grunwell: Writer, marathoner, Good magazine’s wellness columnist + smoothie chick & yoga teacher. Follow her via Inspired Health’s Facebook & Instagram for lifestyle inspo, recipes & giveaways.

Heart-Felt Heroic Fundraiser about to Kick Off – Please Help



Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Blogger, marathoner, Good magazine’s wellness columnist + smoothie chick & yoga teacher. Follow her via Inspired Health’s Facebook & Instagram for lifestyle inspo, recipes & giveaways.


Greg Rieger & his wife Donna are about to tackle the Rotorua Marathon event on May 6 in memory of their beloved son Hamish (pictured above – picture kindly supplied by Jamie Troughton), who tragically died after being swept off the rocks at Mt Maunganui, in the Bay of Plenty, on January 23 last year.
In this blog, Greg and Donna talk in their own words about why this is a heart-felt fundraising mission and there are a few ways that we can all help to support their amazing fundraiser – through cheering them on, running for the charity cause too, or kindly giving a donation (details are below). ps the latter is the easiest option 🙂
Here are their heart-felt words on why they are doing the 21km distance at the Rotorua Marathon event:
“In 2015, Hamish received a scholarship from Mount Maunganui College to sail on the Spirit of Adventure. It was a life-changing experience for Hamish, who came back even more determined to become a police officer and to get fit enough to run a half-marathon (at the Rotorua Marathon event). Although Hamish sadly didn’t get to achieve those goals, his zest for life continues to inspire others, including us as his parents. We want to give back to the Spirit of Adventure Trust by running and walking 12 half-marathons in 12 months, raising money for future scholarships to send deserving students on the Spirit of Adventure. We want others to jump aboard the ‘health train’, as Hamish called it, get themselves fit and sponsored and help donate to the scholarship fund.
Please support the ‘I Ride With Hame’ fundraiser with a donation to: ASB 12-3011-0461607-52 (all money goes to The Spirt of Adventure Trust).
If you want to join the Riegers by doing the Rotorua Marathon event then you can enter now – CLICK HERE
Meanwhile, Greg and Donna want to say “a BIG thank you” to those who have supported them by raising $700 to date and thanks too to ASICS for sponsoring their awesome running shoes and the team’s shirts. This support means so much.
Meanwhile, Greg says training for this event has seen him turning into a healthier version of himself. He has lost a couple of kgs through running (usually to work and back if he can’t fit in a long run) and he is drinking less alcohol too because he’s so focused on training.
“I’ve become so unsociable,” he quips!
Greg says there are about 20 family and friends joining them to tackle the half marathon at Rotorua so far, but he says it would be awesome if anyone else is interested in joining them. Please contact Greg via the I Ride With Hame Facebook page to let him know if you are getting your running shoes on too. CLICK HERE


greg and hamish

Greg is pictured above during a training session at Mt Maunganui. His son Hamish (and inspiration for the fundraiser is pictured right).

Margi Mellsop, from The Spirit of Adventure Trust, has previously said that Greg and Donna’s fundraising mission is inspirational and she is so grateful the money will go to their trust.

“We are so moved by Greg and his family’s commitment to celebrate the life of Hamish in this way. Their efforts will ensure that Hamish’s spirit of adventure will be passed to other Mount Manganui teens . What an incredible legacy they are creating,” she said.

Top pic of Greg and Donna hand-in-hand was kindly supplied by


Pic: Rachel Grunwell, who will be running the Rotorua Marathon event too, leading a blind runner as an Achilles charity ambassador.

Follow Inspired Health on Facebook & Instagram