Completion of marathon a ‘life-long goal’ achieved

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Pedal power... Amy Baynes cycles with the injured veterans of the charity Pilgrim Bandits in 2018. Son Sam (then 8) is along for the ride. PHOTO: SUPPLIED.

Despite longstanding injuries, Amy Baynes recently accomplished a “life-long” goal.

The former Gore woman, a Royal New Zealand Navy Petty Officer medic, completed this year’s virtual London Marathon.

“I never thought that I would achieve this. It’s life-changing,” she said.

PO Baynes underwent a hip replacement in 2013 for a lingering injury obtained serving overseas.

“I was injured in Afghanistan in 2004. I fell awkwardly down a hill.”

The fall also caused longstanding back problems from years of impaired walking.

A former competitor in the Invictus Games, PO Baynes was offered the chance to take part as a representative of the Invictus Foundation, which supports injured servicemen and women.

The 40th annual marathon was held virtually this year due to Covid-19.

She had not had time to train seriously, but luckily was already in good shape for another reason.

“I found out about it about a month ago.

“I had been doing 23kg pack remembrance walks, so I kind of had done training for it.”

However it still came down to “mind over matter”, she said.

“To do a marathon is a massive thing.”

Her 42km walk was GPS-tracked.

“I literally think I walked every street in Gore.”

Expecting to take on the task mainly by herself, she set out with headphones at the ready.

However, she had not counted on family support.

“For the first half my sister walked with me.

“The whole family came and joined in for the last five kilometres.

“It was an amazing, special time for me.”

This was because she lived in Christchurch and did not see her family as often as she would like.

“I was born and raised in Gore and all my family are from here .. I call Gore my home.”

PO Baynes used the marathon to raise funds for the New Zealand branch of the charity Pilgrim Bandits.

Injured service men and women, as well as emergency service workers, could take on “extreme challenges” together.

“It helps with mental health. It’s really cool.”

was important for such people, and she encouraged them to get involved.

Last year PO Baynes and the Bandits had cycled the length of New Zealand.

“The marathon was just another extreme thing [to] do.”

She hoped she and the other Bandits would inspire her children.

“It’s so important that they see resilience to obstacles.”

She had raised $230 for the charity and was grateful for the support, she said.