Farmer runs for Kiwi glory

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By LAURA MCLEAY

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.

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