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'A special bond' - Blind NZ runner and guide set for their 10th major event


A blind New Zealand runner and his able-bodied guide who've forged an enduring bond through pounding their feet are preparing for their 10th major event in Sydney on Sunday.

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Rachel and Tamati formed a unique bond over the years through the joy of running. Source: Seven Sharp

Tamati Pearse is 25 and was born blind. Rachel Grunwell is his running guide from the charity Achilles NZ.

And together they're gleefully collecting medals, Seven Sharp reported.

"Twice New York full marathon, and Rotorua full marathon twice as well," Tamati said.

That's not to mention a clutch of half marathons, leading up to the pair's 10th major event, a 21-kilometre hit-out along the Sydney waterfront on Sunday.

Achilles NZ provides New Zealanders with disabilities the opportunity to participate alongside able-bodied athletes in local running events, as well as at high-profile international events like the New York Marathon.

"To help someone else achieve their dream, it's a heart thing," Rachel said.

The fitness junkie mother-of-three said Tamati was "pretty unmotivated" and "didn't want to get out of bed" when they first teamed up.

But these days, it's same direction, same goals and same pace for both of them.

"The main key is listening and communication. She definitely makes me motivated and tells me to stay away from the naughty food at times," Tamati said. 

Rachel said when she started guiding she was terrified.

"There's so much trust involved. I realised how brave he is, how courageous he is to do what he does."

For Tamati, the effort has paid off.

"I'm a totally a new person. I'm more mature now."

His message to his guide: "Thank you very much. I'm very grateful and please let's keep up the good work and the friendship."

And to Rachel, the blind runner she guides is an inspiration.

"He inspires me that any barrier that you have in life, break it down, get through it. You are capable of more than you imagine," she said.

"It's a special bond, a long-running bond."