Motatapu quake break gives new focus

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A former top Ironman and Christchurch quake survivor is so keen to tackle Motatapu’s new triathlon, he’d consider doing some of it naked. 

Gavin Hawke is one of about 800 athletes from Christchurch scheduled to take part in Saturday’s annual event. 

About double that number of friends and family are expected to join them for support. 

Hawke will compete in the debut, invitation-only off-road tri – the brainchild of his old Ironman rival and Motatapu founder, Geoff Matthews. 

And he reckons the Wanaka to Arrowtown sports spectacular will provide a welcome distraction for some of the many Cantabrians coming down. 

“After the quake I was thinking of pulling out of the Motatapu myself,” Hawke, who lives in the badly hit Christchurch suburb of Mt Pleasant, says. 

“But the race has given me something to focus on and we all need to get back to a bit of normality and get our minds off the disaster, even if it’s only for a few hours.” 

Hawke has previously competed with distinction in three of the four regular Motatapu events – the 42.2km off-road marathon, the 47km mountain bike and the 49km adventure run. 

He has also been known to run marathons barefoot – but hints he might go one better this time on a gruelling triathlon course that starts with a 5km swim in Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka. 

“I definitely won’t be in my bare feet as the rocks on the 15km mountain run might be a bit harsh – but I might do a little bit of the race in the nude, with my shoes still on of course,” he jokes. 

“I’d also like to say a big thank you to the Motatapu team who have worked so hard to assist and accommodate competitors from Christchurch who have had bikes and equipment lost or damaged in the quake,” he adds. 

Hawke has stayed put at his Mt Pleasant home, which he says has somehow escaped major damage. 

However, he got his two young children out of the city after the February 22 quake struck and says they are still “petrified” to return. 

“I want to stay on in Christchurch because I really love the place, but it’s not just all about me,” he says. 

Another high-profile Christchurch athlete, Kiwi multisport legend Steve Gurney will also be competing in Saturday’s Motatapu. 

Gurney’s home in Sumner took a battering in the quake but he’s expected for the race and also to support major fundraising efforts at the event.