‘Sight­see­ing’ marathon calls Koch

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

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.

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