Over the top – again
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.