Two university students to run the New York Marathon for charity

31 August 2017
Connor and Laverne wearing lab coats, in a laboratory.
Connor Clemett and Laverne Robilliard

Two University of Auckland biomedical scientists are heading to the Big Apple to run the iconic New York Marathon and raise money for charity.

Laverne Robilliard and Connor Clemett are both Honours students in the University’s Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility (SCIRF) at the Centre for Brain Research.

But if that didn’t make them busy enough, they have been spending hours of their free time running around the Auckland Domain to train for the New York Marathon. They hope to raise $5000 each for the CatWalk Trust which generously helps fund the University’s Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility.

Laverne, 22, from Auckland and Connor, 21, from Christchurch have already paid their own tickets and accommodation in New York, so all of the money raised will go to the CatWalk Trust.

The chance to donate to a cause so close to their hearts has made the hours of training and muscle ache worth it.

“Science is my ultimate passion, and I have the most amazing opportunity to help pave the way for future research by raising money for this cause that is so close to my heart,” Laverne says.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be running as a part of the Catwalk Trust team, and for being involved in the phenomenal research being carried out at the Centre for Brain Research. Being a member of the research team that is supported by the funds we raise, and knowing the far reaching benefits this will deliver, inspires me to push my boundaries and work as hard as possible to represent the cause.”

For Connor, the training has all been worth it.

“I am not naturally a runner but if science has taught me anything it’s how to learn. While 42.2km definitely feels like a struggle now it has nothing on what spinal cord injury sufferers deal with on a constant basis so the fact that it is tough is not an excuse I can use to avoid doing it.

“The CatWalk Trust is an amazing organisation that is driven to cure spinal cord injury and I was immediately taken by just how proactive and motivated their supporters were.”

The marathon is on Sunday 5th November, but the pair will leave New Zealand on 1st November so they can acclimatise and continue training up until the big day.

The pair have seen great results from their training already. Nowadays they are completing half-marathons and hope to finish the full race in under 4hrs. That is a far cry from the first training runs of the year where even 5km was a milestone. Now the distances climb weekly, though this comes as both a blessing and a curse.

“Maybe it’s because we’re scientists,” laughs Connor, “but we’ve become attached to tracking as many of our statistics as possible. It’s a nice feeling having your personal best distance increase with each of the long weekend runs. It’s even nicer to see a bit of a difference on the scales these days too.”

Laverne agrees, “We’ve definitely both noticed ourselves get stronger. That being said we’ve had our share of injuries – shin splints had both of us down for a while but those are just the extra bumps in the road you have to deal with.

“Keeping ourselves healthy is a priority with this training. We’ve learned that if we’re to do as well as we can in both our research and running, we have to keep each other in check and not allow ourselves to burn out. Having an extra person from the research group doing this helps immensely.”


If you would like to donate to Laverne and Connor’s campaign you can do so through their fundraising pages.

 

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