Ta­bles turned on ath­lete’s res­cuer

What goes around comes around for mul­ti­sporters

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By CHE BAKER

It’s not ev­ery­day you can re­turn the favour for some­one who helped you in your time of need. But for per­sonal trainer Gwen Henry, of Lake Hawea, vol­un­teer­ing at Chal­lenge Wanaka meant she could give some­thing back to Wanaka para­medic Rod Walker. Two weeks be­fore the 2010 race Miss Henry had been train­ing for the Lake Wanaka Half and crashed into a car on her bike. Mr Walker ar­rived in an am­bu­lance to as­sist her and she was air­lifted to Dunedin Hos­pi­tal suf­fer­ing mus­cle and lig­a­ment dam­age to her arm. She de­cided to com­pete in the en­durance triathlon af­ter be­ing re­leased from hos­pi­tal de­spite the crash. ‘‘I prob­a­bly shouldn’t have done it.’’ Not com­pletely re­cov­ered from her in­juries, on painkillers and rid­ing an un­known bike, she be­came de­hy­drated. She al­most com­pleted the race but be­come disori­ented by a ban­ner 50 me­tres from the fin­ish line and thought it was the end. ‘‘I was to­tally out-of-it. I was pretty much co­matose at the fin­ish line,’’ Miss Henry said. She was un­able to fin­ish the course and needed to be treated by am­bu­lance staff, once again by Mr Walker. She has com­peted in the event sev­eral times since then but this year she de­cided to be a vol­un­teer. ‘‘I thought I should give some­thing back since I had done it so many times,’’ she said. It was her job to run with the sec­ond to last per­son com­pet­ing in the full length race, a 3.8km swim, 180km cy­cle and 42.2km run To her sur­prise, Mr Walker was in that po­si­tion and she was de­lighted to be able to run with him for the fi­nal 21.1km to the fin­ish line. Mr Walker said he al­ways wanted to do an iron race and af­ter years of work­ing at the event he de­cided to en­ter last year and again this year. How­ever, be­fore Miss Henry joined him on the run he was go­ing to give up. ‘‘I was hav­ing a men­tal de­bate with my­self. I was go­ing to give up. I’d had enough,’’ Mr Walker. But with Miss Henry by his side he de­cided to carry on. ‘‘She was all bright and chirpy,’’ he said. Dur­ing the run to­gether Mr Walker was able to over­take four peo­ple. He man­aged to fin­ish the race at 11.20pm, 10 min­utes be­fore the cut off time, but un­for­tu­nately recorded a ‘did not fin­ish’ be­cause his swim time was over the cut off. He praised Miss Henry for help­ing him fin­ish the course and said with­out her to push him along he was un­sure if he would have made it. He was con­sid­er­ing do­ing the chal­lenge again. ‘‘It’s un­fin­ished busi­ness for me,’’ he said. Miss Henry said she was con­sid­er­ing do­ing the full triathlon af­ter be­ing in­spired by Mr Walker.

Photo: CHE BAKER 628901695

Help­ing hand: Wanaka para­medic Rod Walker and Lake Hawea per­sonal trainer Gwen Henry have now helped each other dur­ing Chal­lenge Wanaka.

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