Farmer runs for Kiwi glory
Kevin Hopkins has left behind his Te Poi dairy farm for the week and flown to Hawaii to represent New Zealand in the Xterra World Championships.
The Xterra race on October 23 is recognised worldwide as the premier off-road triathlon and consists of a 1.5 kilometre ocean swim, 29.5km mountain bike and 9.8km trail run that traverses through lava rock, forest trails and beach sand.
The long-time runner has competed in triathlons since the early 90s when he was a part of the Matamata Triathlon Club. In 2004 he entered the half ironman at Mount Maunganui followed by the half ironman at Rotorua and later went on to complete the full ironman at Taupo in 2008. In April this year Hopkins competed in the New Zealand Xterra Championships in Rotorua and came in the top five in his 50-65 age category which meant he had the chance to compete in Hawaii.
‘‘This was an opportunity that came up to represent New Zealand so I thought why not? I am really looking forward to it,’’ he said.
Over the past six months Hopkins has used the Kaimai ranges as his training ground as the ter- rain is similar to what he will face in Hawaii. ‘‘I have tried to train five or six days a week but I just train when I can fit it in. It has been particularly hard this season trying to juggle the harsh weather and calving season on the farm which is the busiest time,’’ he said.
‘‘But if you put goals in front of yourself, you have the motivation to reach them and if you have the right training then anything is achievable.’’
He is a member of the Matamata adult swimming club, with whom he swims twice a week, and the Matamata Peddlers club. He also runs a spin class at the Presbyterian Church each week which he said had helped keep his fitness up. ‘‘It is mainly the mountain biking that has been a completely new skill to me. I only took it up last year and it has definitely been a learning curve,’’ he said.
‘‘It is a lot more technical than road cycling and takes a lot of concentration and manoeuvring.’’ But he is confident he will survive and although he said this may be the last big competition he competes in, he will never be one to put the running shoes away altogether.
‘‘Exercise is a huge outlet when it is something you enjoy. It is a time to get away from the busy farm and have a break – that is what I enjoy about it,’’ he said.
New challenge: Kevin Hopkins will be competing in the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii on Sunday.