Garvie’s back from the dread

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Queenstowner Paul Garvie (right) has battled back from an 18-month injury nightmare to tackle Saturday’s Routeburn Classic.

This time last year a crocked Garvie could only watch from the sidelines after seriously hurting his back in a snowboarding accident the previous winter.

Despite only returning to training three months ago, he can’t wait for the 32.6km adventure run, in which he finished fifth two years ago. “I’ll be up against world-class runners like Richard Ussher and Adrian Bailey, so realistically I won’t be looking to win,” Garvie says.

“Compared to those guys, I’d class myself one of the top Average Joes and I’m aiming to do better than fifth place.”

He adds: “It’s been a long process getting fit again after a fall at Coronet Peak. It left me with a huge haematoma at the base of my spine and three vertebrae were almost fused.”

Frontrunner sports shop boss Garvie, originally from Perth in Scotland, admits he’d “never really bothered” with running before moving to Queenstown four years ago.

Instead, he was a keen motorbike racer who competed at Scottish National Championship level.

Garvie’s comeback is going well – he finished second in last month’s Remarkable Runners’ Arm Run and says he’s in “great shape”.

Some 225 competitors will take part in Saturday’s race. Other names to watch include last year’s second placegetter Jacob Roberts from Christchurch, and locals Jim Hawkridge, Willy Roberts and Jordan Davignon.