Walker is run­ning hot

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

MULTI-SPORT ath­lete Gor­don Walker is on a mis­sion to re­claim his Speights Coast to Coast ti­tle to­mor­row.

The 2007 win­ner fin­ished sec­ond to Richard Ussher last year, in the event which sees top com­peti­tors run, cy­cle and pad­dle 243km across the South Is­land.

But Walker, 36, has mixed feel­ings about Ussher not re­turn­ing to de­fend his ti­tle.

“It def­i­nitely makes it an eas­ier race, but hav­ing said that, it’d be good to have him there be­cause it adds an­other el­e­ment.”

The Mt Al­bert res­i­dent has spent 25 hours a week for the past six weeks train­ing for the event, which he fin­ished in 11 hours and 39 min­utes in 2007.

“There’s no gym work. It’s all pad­dling, bik­ing and run­ning.

“I try to get off road as much as pos­si­ble.”

While Walker could en­counter scorch­ing tem­per­a­tures or fierce rain, he says the most com­mon prob­lem he’s en­dured dur­ing his six at­tempts is the wind.

“There’s lots of changes in wind di­rec­tion. It can be hor­ren­dously strong.”

And he says part of the rea­son he en­ters the race year af­ter year is the sheer phys­i­cal chal­lenge.

“What drives you is to be­come a bet­ter ath­lete. To win it is some­thing you re­ally cher­ish and I’d love to do it again.”

When Walker isn’t train­ing for the Coast to Coast, he takes part in ad­ven­ture races around the world.

They can in­volve sev­eral events in­clud­ing climb­ing, ab­seil­ing, white wa­ter raft­ing, cycling and run­ning and take place over three to five days.

“Once you’ve done the big­ger races you can look at it and break it down in your head.

“When I first started, it was too much to think about in one day.”

Coast to Coast or­gan­iser Robin Jud­kins is pre­dict­ing Walker will re­peat his 2007 suc­cess.

“I think he’s go­ing to win. If he doesn’t come first he’ll come sec­ond,” he says.

“He can take real con­fi­dence be­cause he’s won this race be­fore.”

Jud­kins says en­tries for the race surged af­ter Christ­mas with al­most 800 peo­ple reg­is­tered.

As for con­di­tions on the day, he says pre­dicted rain could in­crease lev­els on the Wai­mate River, which would help dur­ing the pad­dle.

But if the wind gets up, he says com­peti­tors will face a tough task dur­ing the race.

“It will be a real slog.”

Photo: THE PRESS

What a feel­ing: Gor­don Walker dur­ing his 2007 Speights Coast to Coast win, is hop­ing to re­peat that suc­cess when he takes part in the 243km race to­mor­row.

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