Above: Freedom Team at the 2016 LA Marathon Start Line
Achilles Heel
March 2016
Recently someone asked: "With all these wounded soldiers running marathons, what does it do for them?" A great question and the first time anyone asked. First, we introduce people to "Achievement"--- it increases their level of aspiration. Second, participating in marathons provides an important social role for people with disabilities. People see disabled marathoners as if they have a halo above their head and treat them appropriately. And finally, training for races like a marathon improves physical fitness.

One member of our Freedom Team joined us shortly after losing his leg in Iraq. He trained and signed up to compete in the Boston Marathon. By chance it was one year to the day he lost his leg. Imagine reconstructing history and having someone ask, what do you think you will be doing next year at this time? The Boston Marathon? This vet returned to school, graduated, got married, and began a great job. Recently, his wife gave birth. My suspicion is that when he accomplished completing the marathon, the high, the joy, motivated him to succeed elsewhere.

A second story concerns a below-the-knee amputee who is also a Freedom Team member. He joined us, ran the New York City Marathon and asked himself: "What's next?...Why not return to my battalion." He was met with a grin. You can't return to the front and fight on one leg! His response, "Sir, I just ran 26 miles in the New York City Marathon...." The Army agreed and he became the first amputee to return to active duty in a war zone. There was a halo. People saw him differently.

A third soldier to compete, after losing a leg, was the first female
wounded in combat in Iraq. During her first marathon race, I head out quickly on my handcycle and around mile ten, she catches me. I complemented her as she caught up, explaining that she was doing well... for a female! Big mistake! She left me in the dust. Completing additional marathons, she moves from a handcycle to running on foot. She becomes a Paralympic swimmer and the first female amputee to complete an Ironman Triathlon while running on a prosthetic leg. Other successes include setting up a Tri-team for disabled athletes, a degree as a prosthesis maker, marriage, and giving birth. Did the competing increase her level of aspiration? Did it improve her fitness? I'll let you decide that!

What Achilles does is give an important platform for people with disabilities to ACHIEVE. The result generally is "what's next?" People see a marathoner as a hero...someone to whom others can aspire...instead of seeing the disability, they see someone heroic...and that's what makes them stand out and be different!


REGISTER NOW for our 14th Annual Hope & Possibility® race at its new distance - 4 miles!! The race is a NYC Marathon Qualifier - so this is a quick and easy stop on your road to 9 + 1! Early registration closes end of day on March 1st. Register today to secure your spot! We think this one is going to go fast!

Each year, thousands of athletes brave the waters of the mighty Hudson River before biking along Manhattan's West Side Highway. Finally, athletes put on their running shoes for a run through New York's famed Central Park in the final stage of this iconic race. Support the Achilles Para-Triathlon Team by raising funds for our programs in exchange for guaranteed entry into the 2016 Panasonic NYC Triathlon. Yet another great opportunity to race alongside our athletes and guides competing on race day! Email Sarah for more details.


In conjunction with our premium apparel partner Champion System, a worldwide leader in custom technical apparel, new pieces and Achilles classics are now available for purchase here.


More great new things from Achilles. Our new e-store is about to accompanied by an equally amazing, new website! Be on the lookout for our upcoming launch! Same address....new design...thanks to our wonderful in-house designer, techie, all-round wonderful computer geek, Karen! Thank you so much, Karen. www.achillesinternational.org 


Once again, our Achilles athletes (26 to be exact!) were welcomed with open arms during the LA Marathon. It is worth noting that this race has always shown a strong vision of inclusion. All athletes with disabilities, be it military or civilian, runners with guides, handcycles, racing chairs, duos etc., are welcome and encouraged to persevere through those 26.2 miles and cross that finish line safely. We absolutely love the race and the energy is superb for the Achilles athletes. Along with staying at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel for the weekend, we are hosted and supported by the historically AMAZING Los Angeles Fire Department. Fire Station 11 welcomed athletes and their families to tune-up hand cycles and eat a delicious homemade Mexican feast. Endless thanks to Captain Greg Malais and Mark Carcamo for your dedication and warmth toward the team over the past 10 years. Your support has been invaluable and though you're both retiring this Fall, we hope you will always feel the love and know your special place in the Achilles Family! Also a giant thank you to our dear friends at General Motors for sponsoring the Freedom Team registration and hotels. Wonderful progress is being made because of all that you give!


On February 25th, Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF) hosted five Achilles NYC athletes at Windham Mountain in upstate New York. Our athletes hit the slopes with their adaptive ski instructors for two lessons. Lessons included methods of using poles and verbal commands to guide an athlete with any type of disability down the mountain. Our athletes excelled in their progression and were soon "chasing freshies" by the time the day was done. There were some wipe-outs, but even more laughs! ASF and Achilles show the world that anything is possible! 

A giant thanks goes out to our friends Alexandra Malkin and Aaron Marks, who started this CrowdRise page, to make this day possible! We hope to expand this endeavor to more athletes and more lessons next season.


On February 25th NYC's running community came together to celebrate the best and brightest runners within the five boroughs. Every year two exceptional Achilles athletes are recognized for their dedication to the sport, athletic achievements, and contribution to the Achilles community. The Achilles male athlete of the year is Asim Baig and female athlete of the year is Abigail ("Abbey") Lanier. Congratulations!!!!

(Photos below, courtesy of NYRR)


Please join us for the Second Annual "AIN'T NO STOPPING US NOW" Indoor Triathlon Fundraiser. An early morning of swimming, cycling and running - all to benefit The Achilles Para-triathlon Team. 

Where: Chelsea Piers Sports Center 
When: Sunday, April 17th, 2016
  • Doors open at 6:15am
  • Race starts at 7am
  • Ends at 8:30am

What: 500 yard Swim, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run. 

Sponsors: Full Throttle Triathlon Team and Chelsea Piers Sports Center. 

Registration Fee: $50 tax deductible. No charge for para-triathletes. 


There is a limited amount of space, so be sure to sign up soon! Awards given to top performers from each wave: male, female and para-triathletes. Additionally, as this is a community event, if you are unable to partake, please feel free to volunteer to be part of the cheering squad! For more information on the event, or for volunteer opportunities please contact Susie Abadi  or Kat Bateman 


Sponsor a person. Sponsor the triathlon. Sponsor the cause.


by Chris Holcomb

The Achilles Atlanta chapter is up and running. We have a great core group of Achilles members meeting on Wednesdays for a weekly workout at Panola Mountain State Park. Our group is excited and gearing up for what will surely be a wonderful spring full of fun, great workouts and a few races too. Achilles volunteer Lizzie Likness has stepped up to establish a social media presence by creating a Facebook page and a twitter feed. Our first workout was at Panola Mountain State Park on a cold Georgia winter afternoon in January. A great time was had by all! 

Achilles Atlanta - "Come Run with Us" 
When: Wednesdays 2 - 4 pm
Where: Panolo Mountain State Park, 
2620 Highway 155, SW -Stockbridge, GA 30281
Twitter: @AtlantaAchilles 
E-mail: AchillesAtlanta@gmail.com 
Phone: (678)-901-0244 
Mailing Address: 124 Chestnut Street, Cedartown GA 30125


by Patricia Crebase

February may be frigid, but the hearts and limbs of Philly Achilles are hot to trot. Despite February 13th being one of the coldest days of the year, the chapter met for a workout and a Hot Chocolate Social (with bonus Rice Krispie treats.) A solid team of the toughest (or craziest!) runners set out for distances of up to 12 miles. The slightly saner members did their workouts indoors on treadmills or with weights. 

Achilles Philly is excited to travel to Pittsburgh for our Annual Destination Race - this year it will be the Pittsburgh Hope & Possibility Race® on April 9th. Seven athletes are making the trip with guides and enthusiastic support. We are looking forward to a carb loading dinner the night before with the Pittsburgh chapter.

Bookin' for Lookin' is a race supporting Foundation Fighting Blindnes (FFB) and Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (BCABVI). It was founded by Achilles Philly member Mark McCowan. The race is April 17th and is a great crossover event with our chapter.

The Philadelphia Broad Street Run is May 1st. Our chapter currently has six athletes planning to master the 10 mile run through the City of Brotherly Love. We are working on guide pairings and goals. If any of you outlanders are planning to come for the race, please reach out to see if we can assist. (Please note, Broad Street does not allow handcycles. It allows push rims.) 

The date has been set for the 2016 Achilles Philly Gala: Saturday August 6th. Save the date! More details to come!


Valerie Kenney joined Achilles as a volunteer in 2014. She has done several races with us since then and won the Team Challenge for the 2015 NYC Marathon with Team John Pierre winning a trip to Disney World this past January! Well done, Valerie and thank you.

"The experience started out being about wanting to volunteer and helping others. But it became so much more. Right away some incredible friendships formed with the athletes and other guides -- friendships that will be life long and extend way beyond workouts in the park. Achilles has become a family. More than guiding or volunteering it is about spending time with close friends." - Valerie Kenney.
To read more about Valerie, please click here.

To nominate someone as Volunteer of the Month, please email Fiona.


Achilles Cuba, which was launched in November 2015, has already expanded membership, encouraging everyone to participate in local races and triathlons. Photos (below) are from a recent Half Marathon (February 20th 2016) to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the founding of the Cuban National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER).

Achilles Kids are getting ready for the NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K. It will be our first time in this fun and festive race! It's a hilly race but we know our Achilles Kids will rise to the challenge! Thanks to Paul Ortolano and Lori Lavine from NYRR for their help in registering our team! 

Achilles Japan's regular workout on February 14th was a very special one. Approximately 90 members ran despite the strong south wind and rain called "The First Storm of Spring." This is when Tokyo starts seeing its first blossoms on cherry trees. What made it extra special was the addition of some new, wonderful volunteers - sixteen students from Wasoeda University and five guides from Bloomberg Japan joined the workout. Achilles Japan hopes that this collaboration will permanently add guides, as the chapter has more than 300 visually impaired runners. 

After months of hard work Achilles Kids Mongolia was officially launched in February 2016 with an event in several specialized schools with weekly workouts and our "virtual marathon" program -- where kids run a marathon distance - that's 26.2 miles or more! - throughout the school year. To kick-start this new chapter, Mongolian Communities in the US donated seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities, shipping them directly to Mongolia. Amazing! Achilles Mongolia announced a special drawing contest for children in three age categories: under-six, ages seven to 11 and 12 to 16. Drawings submitted will be exhibited in Mongolia's Public Gallery and the three best will be printed on Achilles Kids T-shirts which will then be worn by hundreds of kids during the "Run for Fun" Race on June 1st.

Achilles Pittsburgh participated in the local Cupid Undie Run where everyone wore their undies on the outside of their clothes! Pretty helpful in minus ten degrees wind chill!  The chapter raised over $1,000 for the children's tumor foundation. They will host their third Annual Hope & Possibility® Race on April 9th, 2016

Please e-mail President@AchillesPittsburgh.org for details.

March 13th: Achilles Toronto 17th Annual Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5k Run/Walk. 1,500 participants including 150 Achilles members are expected! The goal is to raise $100,000. For more information, click here!

March 20th: NYC Half Marathon

April 9th: - The Achilles Pittsburgh Hope & Possibility® Race. For details please e-mail President@AchillesPittsburgh.org

April 17th: Achilles NYC Indoor Triathlon Fundraiser @ Chelsea Piers, NY

April 18th: Boston Marathon

April 30th: Achilles Paratriathlon Indoor Clinic @ Crystal Springs Resorts

May 1st: Achilles Philadelphia Broad Street Run

May 14th: NYRR Healthy Kidney 10 km @ Central Park 

June 26th: Achilles NYC Hope & Possibility® 4 Mile Race

August 6th: Achilles Philly Gala

August 21st: Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility® sponsored 
by Cigna

March 27th: 2nd Hope & Possibility® 8K Race - 8 a.m. @ Plaza San Martin, Lima. For more information please visit Facebook

July 17th: 5th Hope & Possibility® 5K Race, Munich, Germany. Click here for more information

June 1st: Achilles Kids Mongolia Run for Fun 
September 11th: 2nd Hope & Possibility® event, which includes four races: a Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 3K races. Location: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. For more information, please visit Facebook

Above, Clockwise from top: Achilles Kids Mongolia, Achilles Cuba, Achilles Japan Volunteers, Achilles Japan Cherry Blossom workout, Achilles Mongolia Kids are ready to GO, Achilles Cuba ready for the INDER race.



Photo credits: many of our photos are courtesy of the great, talented, always helpful and very dedicated, Larry Sillen. Thank you, Larry!