Walker is running hot
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.”
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.