Meet Your Heart Heroes

Anna Cupples

Anna was just 36 years old — a fit and athletic former international triathlete — when she suffered a heart attack. 

It started with some tightness in her chest, but Anna dismissed it:

“I had this chest pain and my arms felt heavy. In the back of my head, I knew that they were the classic signs of a heart attack. But I didn’t think a heart attack could really be a possibility.”

That afternoon, Anna’s test results revealed that she needed hospitalisation immediately.

It's now been over 8 years since the events of that day, and Anna — who has since had a beautiful baby girl — is taking on MyMarathon to show that this changes nothing. 💪

Yvonne West

Yvonne received a congenital heart murmur diagnosis at age 38 but continued to lead an active life filled with ultramarathon training, teaching, and community involvement for decades.

As someone who once dedicated part of her life to running events, Yvonne thinks that MyMarathon is an awesome opportunity for people to get active and make a life-saving difference.

“Getting involved helps make heart research possible and save lives,” she says. “We know so much more now than we did a decade ago, and it’s research and technology that helped us do that. The more we know, the more we can help people overcome their heart issues and lead long, normal lives.”

“There’s many things to consider. Improving your own heart health by taking part in MyMarathon, plus you’ll be helping fund important heart research, as well as supporting highly trained professionals in New Zealand.”

Michael Jacques

As a passionate athlete and a heart attack survivor, Michael understands just how important events like MyMarathon are.

“It’s so important to have a consistent awareness of heart disease,” he says. “There are more and more health issues affecting society over time, and we need to keep heart disease front of mind.”

“Taking part in MyMarathon is also great because it’s for a worthy cause. The donations raised do benefit so many different aspects of heart health awareness, including research. Heart disease doesn’t have to be the end of your story because of the advances that have been made. Almost everybody knows someone who’s had a heart health issue, so it’s the easiest way to help someone close to you.”

Hamish Waugh

As someone who loves being active, Hamish is excited to take part in MyMarathon – and he encourages others to get involved too.

“Raising money for research is really important because so much of heart disease is preventable,” he says. “I was lucky to go into my operation, come out and be ready to return to work in less than six months. That wasn’t the case years ago. People back then wouldn’t have had access to this kind of care. So taking part in MyMarathon helps improve things like heart disease treatment.”

Hamish continues, “It’s a really great cause. The work that MyMarathon can help make possible is amazing. I’m looking forward to taking part in it because it’s my passion as well. It’s an achievable goal to set yourself, and it helps your own heart too.” 

Craig Pearce

Craig first started supporting the Heart Foundation as a Big Heart Appeal street collection volunteer, then he saw the launch of MyMarathon.

I’m choosing to swim MyMarathon, instead of running or walking it,” he explains. “Because swimming is also good for your heart. I thought it was great that you could choose how you take part and what distance you’d like to tackle.

“My ‘why’ for taking part is that I’ve seen firsthand the effects of heart disease. It’s an emotional journey – I remember having such absolute lows, crying to my partner and just wanting it to stop. So, to fund heart research, it’s helping not only to treat my heart disease, but others’ too. It’s such a hard thing to go through and it affects so much more than your heart.”

Shelby Wilkinson

Shelby is taking on MyMarathon in memory of her beloved dad, who sadly lost his life to heart disease in August 2023. It was a sudden, unexpected loss and it wasn’t until early in 2024 that Shelby and her family found out the cause of death: coronary heart disease.

“It was a massive shock to all of us, because there’s no history of it in our family,” says Shelby. “He had been living with heart disease without knowing it and it’s obviously quite scary to think that someone could be going about their everyday life living with a silent killer.”

“When I saw MyMarathon, I just had to get involved,” she continues. “My dad was a huge supporter of my health and fitness, so it seemed like a fitting way to honour him.”

“I also wanted to get involved so that I can prevent this from happening to any other family,” says Shelby. “Even if the money I raise can help in a small way, it’s still making a difference. I really encourage people to get stuck in, you don’t need to set yourself huge targets. Every little bit counts!”