Teacher makes return after marathon recovery

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A Queenstown teacher told by doctors he would never run again is now training for the resort’s marathon.

Three years ago, the Shotover Primary School team leader Joe Bailey ran the inaugural Queenstown International Marathon.

He hoped to break the four-hour mark. Instead, he broke himself.

Bailey slipped a disc in his back and pinched and damaged a nerve, sending shooting pain down to his knees.

He was told by doctors he’d need surgery, meaning his running days would be behind him.

“I got to the 30km mark and both my knees went for the first time in my life.

“They were completely gone, it was agony.”

Bailey soldiered on through Frankton to the Boat House Cafe.

“I thought ‘I can’t go on’ but my kids came out to cheer me on and this was my first marathon.

“They said ‘go on, you can do it’.”

He carried on to the end, in the pouring rain, but couldn’t get down the ramp into the Recreation Ground.

“My knees couldn’t get me down, I had to go side on. I made it, but it wasn’t the kind of finish I wanted for my first full marathon.”

The keen sportsman finished about in 4hrs 44mins.

After various medical examinations, procedures and two MRI scans, he was told surgery was the only option.

But he wanted a second opinion.

“They said I would never run again – I said no to that.”

His saviour has been Te Anau specialist musculo-skeletal physician Steve Bentley.

“I had to wait nine months to see him.

“He basically said I can fix you but you have to follow this regime and some specific exercises – strengthening and breath-ing.”

The dad-of-three, originally from Guernsey, Channel Islands, has stuck with the regime for nine months.

Impressively, he’s now running up to 20km and is aiming for the 42.2km Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon on November 18.

There’ll also be two separate half marathons, a 10km, and 2.2km kids’ run on the day. Entries are open.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz