Athletics: Auckland runner Steve Ciprian defies odds to return to marathon start line

On Sunday, more than 13,000 people will hit the streets for this year's Auckland Marathon.

Some will chase victory or a personal best, while for others, reaching the finish line will be a win in itself.  

For ex-firefighter Steve Ciprian, the race will complete a two-year journey to the start-line, after a road accident that left him with fractures in his neck and spine. 

After several surgeries during a gruelling rehabilitation, Ciprian expects an emotional occasion. 

"I've thought about it a lot," he tells Newshub. "I'm assuming I'll shed a tear or three."

Simply running, let alone competing, in an Auckland Marathon was something doctors didn't think would be possible for the 56-year-old, when he was hit by a car while cycling to work in 2018.

"My front wheel went over the front of his car and I landed on my head," Ciprian explains. 

"They showed me my original MRIs and said, 'you're probably lucky to be alive'."

Almost 11 hours surgery were just the beginning of his journey.

"I always used to think good luck was winning the lotto or something, but no, whatever's been given to me... it's made me really humble," he says.

And Ciprian isn't just running for himself. He's also raising money for the Catwalk trust and spinal cord injury research, hoping to help others who haven't been as lucky as him. 

As he finishes his training, Ciprian takes a final moment of reflection at the site of the accident that changed his life forever.

"It'll be two years the weekend after the marathon since it happened, and I'm back running a marathon," he says. 

"How crazy." 

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