Over the top – again

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

For Bryan Rawiri, com­plet­ing the Grand Tra­verse in April is an­other step on a very per­sonal jour­ney.

This will be the Tawa 42-yearold’s sec­ond dig at the mul­ti­sport event, com­pet­ing in the duathlon sec­tion. He fin­ished the 2010 competition in 5hr 58m, but it was an in­cred­i­ble feat that he got to the start line at all.

In 2009, just weeks be­fore that year’s Tra­verse, an ac­ci­dent skate­board­ing with his kids in Welling­ton left the fit and healthy Rawiri with a bro­ken neck.

‘‘It was two years ago al­most to the day. I was at the skate park when the board went one way, I went the other – and I went down. I got up, didn’t feel well, so I de­cided to sit in the car. Af­ter about 20 min­utes I was a real mess [and] col­lapsed in front of the counter at the hos­pi­tal.’’

Al­though not re­quir­ing surgery, a bro­ken bone at the top of his neck pinched his spine. Months of re­hab fol­lowed. He was es­sen­tially bed-rid­den for six months and couldn’t work for a year. He has en­dured ‘‘ fairly con­stant pain’’ since the ac­ci­dent.

Cou­pled with the fact he has a ge­netic dis­or­der that ren­ders his bones brit­tle, life wasn’t look­ing up for Rawiri.

‘‘I’m a guy that likes to stay fit and this in­jury was like tak­ing lol­lies from a kid. I got an­gry a lot and it was a re­ally, re­ally hard time.’’

How­ever, the in­jury pro­vided him time to pause and re­flect on his life. He be­lieves the ex­pe­ri­ence has made him a bet­ter fa­ther and hus­band. A year later he was back jog­ging and work­ing full-time and, de­spite lit­tle lead-up work, got to the start line of the 2010 Grand Tra­verse.

‘‘I pushed my­self but I thought ‘I’m go­ing to do this’ and it was an amaz­ing feel­ing to get to that point. Right at the start [of train­ing] I could barely get through a half-hour run and next thing I know I’m on a moun­tain­bike on Battle Hill.’’

With his el­dest son run­ning along­side him and fam­ily and friends wait­ing at the fin­ish, Rawiri crossed the line in tri­umph, ‘‘ ab­so­lutely shat­tered’’. He im­me­di­ately swore ‘‘never again’’ but that feel­ing lasted about 15 min­utes.

‘‘There were a few oc­ca­sions [in 2010] when I stopped to look at that spec­tac­u­lar scenery. This time I’ll have my head down more. I’ve been train­ing pretty hard for it.’’

Rawiri says the Grand Tra­verse is a chal­lenge but one that peo­ple of vary­ing fit­ness lev­els can take part in. He has high praise for or­gan­is­ers, who have added the ‘‘fun run’’ from Ti­tahi Bay and through Whi­tireia Park as a strat­egy to get more par­tic­i­pants, es­pe­cially fam­i­lies.

‘‘This is an in­cred­i­ble event and hav­ing it in our own back­yard is so great. Hats off to the guys who put it to­gether. The 7km [fun run] is re­ally achiev­able so my mes­sage is for peo­ple to just get out there and have a go, push your­self a bit. I hope the Porirua com­mu­nity re­ally gets be­hind it.’’

Rawiri hopes to take part in a Half Iron­man in Taupo in De­cem­ber, with a view to par­tic­i­pat­ing in a full Iron­man next year. He hopes his body will let him, be­cause his mind is cer­tainly will­ing.

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