Pierry Duvan Ramirez Guerrero
Achilles Colombia,
with his team during practice.
Achilles Heel
April 2016
What is the International side of Achilles? Everyone knows Achilles US (originally called Achilles Track Club.) In fact, in New York City we are easily recognized by our signature neon yellow t-shirts worn by members in Central Park and throughout the five boroughs. We have many chapters within the USA including Achilles Freedom Team and Achilles Kids. What people might not be aware of is how far-reaching we are around the world: from North to South America (including a large presence in Canada and Brazil) to Europe (large chapters in Germany and Norway), Asia (Russia and Mongolia), South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. And most recently, Cuba. With presence in over 70 countries throughout the world, we are proud to say we are truly International.

When did we become International? We first expanded beyond the US in 1984 when Brian Froggart, an above-the-knee amputee from New Zealand, saw me on TV running a marathon with an artificial leg. He made contact and asked for guidance. This was at a time when having a disability was something that was hidden; there were no programs and little encouragement to get involved in sports. Brian was the first New Zealand athlete to travel to New York and compete with me in the NYC Marathon...both of us on our artificial legs. I was very impressed with Brian's workouts which included hopping two miles around a track without his artificial leg. It was an incredible way to build strength and later, speed.

Achilles New Zealand became one of our first and greatest multi-location chapters with several branches within the country thanks to the great Peter Loft, Chairman, whom we will be sorry to lose as he retires in the next few months. (More about Peter and Achilles NZ below.)

A few years later, I met Leszek Sibilski, a sports reporter from Poland, who was interviewing the late Fred Lebow (President of New York Road Runners and one of Achilles original board members.) Achilles became a second interview and an inspiring story. This chance meeting with Leszek evolved into the creation of several Polish chapters. (My fondest memory being in Poland was running the Kalish 100km Super Marathon in 1988 on an artificial leg. At the finish I said, "never again!")

Like stepping stones, Achilles Poland introduced us to chapters in Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, South Africa and Malaysia among others. In true Achilles form, one small step was the start of greater things and we began to set up chapters far and wide, changing lives and inspiring people along the way.

Achilles Mongolia, for example, entered the hearts and minds of people around the world thanks to one member - Tuul Pyambuugiin - a blind athlete who ran the NYC Marathon in 1990. While in New York, Tuul received a cornea transplant thanks to the generosity of eye surgeon Dr. Richard Koplin. His story spread globally. Achilles Mongolia Chapter was revived in 2014 thanks to the spirit and talent of Saranchuluun ("Saraa") Otgon. With the help of its active board members Achilles is seeking to advance the status of disabled persons in Mongolia. On September 10th 2016, the chapter is hosting their 2nd Hope and Possibility Race® with 10,000 participants and prior to that, their second "Run for Fun" kids race in June with an estimated 1,000 entries. That is a success story!

Among many African countries, Achilles South Africa has been very, very successful with chapters in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Also included is the Ethembeni School for disabled children which sends disabled teenagers to compete in the NYCM every year.

Our most successful chapter in the East is Japan. Achilles Tokyo has close to 400 visually impaired/blind members and each year, approximately 20 athletes and volunteers come to New York for the NYC Marathon. Most recently, we started Achilles Cuba in November 2015. This chapter is prospering well and we anticipate many competing in the Havana Marathon this fall.

We are proud of our presence within the US and around the world! Thank you everyone for being part of our success. We couldn't do it with you!


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.

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 Kat Bateman for more details.


Achilles brought some neon yellow sunshine to this year's cloudy NYC Half. The 13.1 mile course from Central Park to Manhattan's Financial District was filled by over 90 blinding yellow Achilles shirts. This was the biggest Achilles team at the NYC Half ever! Despite the wind and threat of snow, 12 handcyclists, 27 runners and 52 guides crossed the finish line. Wheeling, running, walking, and jogging; everyone was spurred on by shouts and cheers of "Go Achilles!" Finishing with the speedy time of 00:52:27, Marcel Lignon was the first Achilles handcyclist to cross. Charles Catherine, the first Achilles male runner to cross, PR-ed with a time of 01:39:07! Not too far behind, Eliza Cooper, the first Achilles female, finished with a time of 01:59:14. A very special congratulations to Melissa Blume and Eleanor Chapman for completing their very first half marathons. After the race, everyone convened at a nearby diner to celebrate their accomplishments with eggs and pancakes. Great job, everyone! #GoAchilles! 


Achilles was thrilled to participate in the 17th annual Cigna/Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5k. Dick Traum spoke movingly before the race about his deep connection to Canada. Dick's completion of the 1976 NYC Marathon inspired a young Canadian amputee named Terry Fox to begin a cross-country trek that inspired the nation. After many years away, Dick received a hero's welcome as he shared this story and competed in the race. Joining him was Skyler Tibbits, a participant in the innovative Cigna/Achilles referral program. Skyler, guided by Jamie Shea from Cigna's Canada office, completed her first ever 5k. It was especially exciting for Skyler given her recent triumph over a devastating cancer diagnosis. Deepest thanks to Cigna for their sponsorship of this race and a warm kudos to race organizer and Achilles Canada chapter president Brian McLean who did a masterful job organizing the race. Special shout-outs to Cigna executives Deborah L. Wing, Mark Marsters, and Adam Ressler who got in the spirit by running the race. Cigna and Achilles are truly Together All the Way!

REGISTER NOW for our 14th Annual Hope & Possibility® race at its new distance - 4 miles!! The race, on Sunday June 26th, is a NYC Marathon Qualifier - so this is a quick and easy stop on your road to 9 + 1!  Register today to secure your spot! We think this one is going to go fast! 

POST H&P BRUNCH - for the second year in a row, Mary Koutrakas and Michael Boyd are hosting a special post-H&P fundraising brunch at Dorrian's Red Hand Restaurant. You don't have to participate in the race to attend the brunch, so spread the word (and event link!!!) Tickets must be purchased in advance no later than Friday, June 24th. Space is limited to 100, so hurry. This event was sold out and at capacity last year. To purchase tickets, click here for Eventbrite.

Brunch tickets are $25 and include unlimited hot brunch buffet, coffee and Eventbrite fees. Cash and credit cards will be accepted for all other beverages. There will be auctions for chances to take home some fantastic merchandise and gift certificates as well as a 50/50 Raffle with the proceeds to benefit Achilles International!


For the past eight years, we have held a design contest for our Achilles Kids school program t-shirts and every year we continue to be impressed by the amazing artists that we have in our program! This year is no different. We wish we could have more than one "winning" design. But, since we have to make that call (and it was a tough call to make!) we are very pleased to announce that Ronnel from P4 @ 213 in Bayside is the winner! His design will be proudly worn by more than 13,000 Achilles Kids members and teachers throughout the US. Congratulations also to our second place winner, the Art Team at South Side High School in Rockville Centre, NY; and to our third place winner, Serena, at Sierra Academy, San Diego, California.

But ALL the entries warmed our hearts and made us smile. So, if you didn't win this year, get those crayons and markers out and try again next year!


Achilles Mongolia recently held their first t-shirt design contest for their Achilles Kids "Run for Fun" race which will take place on June 1st 2016.

Congratulations to Bilegsaikhan (age 6) who won the contest in age group 0 to 6 (in photo); Bayarsaikhan (age 8) was the winner in age group 7 - 11; and Undar'ya (age 15) was the winner in age group 12 and up. Well done, everyone!


Hunter discovered Achilles in 2013 through NY Cares and began guiding several of our athletes in workouts and races. This past March Hunter completed his first long run in the NYC Half with Zoe Heinemann. Well done, Hunter, and thank you!

"For me it has been an experience that has opened my eyes to what can be accomplished with determination and a 'can do' attitude. The races we train for, regardless of the number of miles covered, have a similar message highlighted with bright yellow Achilles shirts. I've realized that ability can take many forms and think we're sending a message that you can do this too."- Hunter Morris
To read more about Hunter, please click here.

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


ANNA KIEFER - Achilles Washington DC
Achilles bids a fond farewell to Anna Kiefer who helped shape the most recent incarnation of the Achilles Washington DC chapter. Small but robust, our DC chapter is a valued training resource for Achilles athletes who travel there for business and pleasure. We welcome Kat Calvitti, who worked alongside Anna from the beginning to succeed her as president. Thank you, Anna!

PETER LOFT - Achilles New Zealand
This year Peter Loft is resigning as Chairman of Achilles New Zealand after joining 23 years ago and working hard to make it successful. He is leaving at a good time with four active, financially stable chapters in New Zealand leaving behind new people to continue his legacy. Peter will now focus on developing the Achilles Hamilton Chapter and continue to act as an adviser to the Board. We appreciate his dedication, hard work and love for Achilles and are so happy that he is staying within our family! Thank you so much, Peter.
The first athlete with a disability to travel from New Zealand to do the New York City Marathon with Achilles was Brian Froggat, an above-the-knee amputee from Dargaville. That was in 1985. In 1993, John Riley became the second above-the-knee amputee from NZ to complete the NYCM with me. When we returned from New York, John and I, along with Craig Jessop, Myles Flynn, with support from Gina Flynn and Yvonne Loft, set up Achilles Track Club NZ (ATC NZ.) John left Achilles in 1996 and Myles and Gina resigned from the Board in 2007. ATC NZ is now Achilles International New Zealand and run by a Board of Governance. It is also a registered Charity in New Zealand. Since 1993 Achilles NZ has had a team take part in the New York City Marathon every year and over the years brought in excess of 200 athletes to New York. Our big growth has been in New Zealand where we now have five active chapters in the following cities: Auckland, Wellington, Rotorua, Christchurch and by next month, Hamilton, which open on Sunday April 3rd. Cigna New Zealand is our major Corporate Partner and through them, with support from Cigna foundation, the "Cigna Round the Bays" fun run in Wellington is our major annual event and we have naming rights to the Achilles Half Marathon which is one of three runs at this event.


Achilles Colombia expanded dramatically from 2009 to the present day under the leadership of Pierry Duvan Ramirez Guerrero. Members of the chapter participate in local and international races throughout the year and have workouts twice a week. Here are some of chapter's recent accomplishments: Signed a contract with Under Armor Colombia which will sponsor Achilles Colombia uniforms and shoes for one year; Pierry was invited to join the Marine Corps Trails Base Camp in Pendleton, CA (March 2nd to 9th.) These trials provide an opportunity for wounded marines, sailor and veterans to further their rehabilitation through competition and camaraderie. In addition, Achilles Colombia will have representation in the Paralympic Games in 2016 - this is a huge milestone for Cristian Torresan Achilles Colombia member, and his personal athletic goal. 

March is the busiest season for the Chapter as the members are working to get ready for Presta tu Pierna ("Lend Your Leg") Race. This is Achilles Colombia's signature event. On April 3rd Achilles Colombia and thousands of able-bodied runners will be joined, in Bogota, by Achilles US members for the fourth year in a row for the race and other sports activities such as goal ball, power lifting, soccer with crutches, quad rugby, seated volleyball and fencing. What an awesome event! Good luck Achilles Colombia!

Achilles CT is coming out of hibernation after a long winter! They have an "Opening Weekend" the first weekend in April with five different races across the State. They also have two fundraisers in April: April 3rd at the Half Full Brewery in Stamford and on April 16th at the Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield, which will also feature a silent auction. Finally, on April 24th Achilles CT have their first big team event at the Cheshire Half Marathon.
Save the date: August 21st for Achilles CT Hope & Possibility® 5k/10k. Registration is open!

Achilles Nashville participated in the Special Kids 5K and 15K recently in Murfreesboro, TN. The chapter is always excited to support Special Kids Nursing and Therapy Center which is an amazing program that offers physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy as well as nursing services to children with special needs. Achilles Nashville was honored to have the first two wheelchair athletes to ever participate in their race. Both Lizzy Solomon and Amy Saffell competed in the wheelchair division for the 5K, while Stephanie Zundel completed her second 15K with her amazing guide Amy Harris. A special shout-out goes to new guide Emily Krasinski who guided Lizzy Solomon and the always trusty Kevin Miller who guided Amy Saffell. Everyone had a great time and Achilles Nashville want to thank everyone at Special Kids in Murfreesboro!

Seven athletes with a squad of volunteers and supporters are heading to Pittsburgh to do Hope & Possibility® on April 3rdPatricia Crebase will be hand cycling the event and Michael Bezzerides will be one of her guides. 

Two Achilles Philly volunteers -- Claire Sokas and Zach Reese -- are leaving for Boston to do their residency when they graduate in medicine. From now on you can refer to them as Dr. Claire and Dr. Zach. They were sent off in style with some lovely gifts. Thank you both! 

Cigna Fosters a Culture of Caring: On March 19th, in conjunction with Achilles Phoenix, Cigna of Phoenix Arizona hosted a Fun Run with runDisney at the Phoenix Zoo which included breakfast and admission to the zoo. It was an awesome event. The event was well organized and Cigna's culture of giving back to the community was evident by the number of Cigna employees who wanted to serve as guides for our athletes. A good time was had by all! 

With spring officially here, come spend time outdoors with Achilles DC. Achilles DC meets Sundays at 10am at the Robert A. Taft Memorial, just steps from the National MallEmail to get involved or just show up that morning.

April 1st
Achilles CT "Opening Weekend."

April 3rd: Achilles CT Fundraiser @ Half Full Brewery, Stamford, CT.

April 3rdAchilles Colombia - Presta tu Pierna ("Lend Your Leg") -- signature race in Bogota.

April 9th: Achilles Philly/Pittsburgh Hope & Possibility®

April 16thAchilles CT Fundraiser @ Thomas Hooker Brewery, Bloomfield, CT.

April 17thSecond Annual "AIN'T NO STOPPING US NOW" Indoor Triathlon Fundraiser - Chelsea Piers.

April 18thBoston Marathon | Patriot's Day | 30+ Achilles Athletes/Freedom Team members participating.

April 24thAchilles CT @ Cheshire Half Marathon.

May 19thTom DeRosa and Band "Do Something" Fundraiser for Achilles @ Mad River Bar & Grille. Time: 7 - 10 p.m. Tickets $25 which includes 1 free drink and happy hour pricing for all other drinks.
June 26th: New York Hope & Possibility® - Central Park. Followed by fundraising brunch.

Above, Clockwise from top: Patricia Crebase, who qualified for an entourage of guides at the Philly workout on March 20th, also helped break in three first time volunteers from Temple University; Greater Phoenix race start; Achilles Nashville's Lizzy and Amy celebrate their triumph; Greater Phoenix ready to go; Amy Saffell of Achilles Nashville on the course; Achilles Philly.



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