‘Sightseeing’ marathon calls Koch
Matamata’s Stu Koch always thought people who ran marathons were crazy. He still does – only now he hopes to be one of them.
The former sprinter is one of 25 New Zealanders to be allowed entry into next weekend’s London Marathon.
‘‘I always said if I had to do a marathon, I’d do London,’’ he told the Chronicle last week.
‘‘If you’re going to do one of those crazy things and be that stupid, you may as well see another country.’’
The marathon is one of the largest in the world and takes in sights such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Parliament.
‘‘It’s a sightseeing thing on it’s own,’’ Koch said.
‘‘And I’m doubly excited because 10 days later I’m doing a 10km run at Balmoral Estate in Scotland.’’
Koch has been in training for about 18 months and the longest distance he has run so far is 28km at the Taupo Great Lake Relay in February.
He has also finished half marathons in Tauranga and Hamilton, and an off-road half marathon in Rotorua.
In January he ran a total of 165km.
He was well on track with his training until six weeks ago when he started to have major problems with his hips.
‘‘It has been a nightmare,’’ he said. ‘‘Last week I couldn’t even walk, let alone run.’’
On medical advice he has slowly eased back into it but said his ambitions for the marathon have shifted.
‘‘I was trying to get a really good time. You want to do your utmost to give it a decent shove but my aim now is really just finishing,’’ he said.
‘‘That is pretty crucial, to finish the thing. Even if you take eight hours, who cares?’’
Koch, a car salesman, has had a lot of support from other runners in Matamata and said he owes them all a debt of gratitude.
‘‘I’m a sprinter. I used to say to people: ‘After 400m, jump in the car’.
‘‘Without the continued persistence of these people, I certainly wouldn’t be mentally capable of this kind of distance, let alone physically capable.
‘‘It’s as much a battle of attrition as a battle of wit and mind,’’ he said.
‘‘A journey of 42 thousand steps starts with just one.’’
He was looking forward to taking part in such a major event and said in his mind, he would only be competing against himself.
‘‘The nice thing I have noticed about runners is you’re not running against 40 thousand others, you’re running with them.
‘‘It’s just your own race, your own shoes and your own time.’’
Koch is flying to London next Wednesday and will be spending almost a month travelling in the United Kingdom.
He hopes to visit the restaurant of celebrity chef Rick Stein and to visit his great aunt who is turning 100 later this year.
Nervous energy: Matamata’s Stu Koch is determined to cross the finish line at the London Marathon next Sunday.