Ian Winson was fighting for his life in a hospital bed a year ago after losing part of his legs in a gas explosion.
Now he's bouncing back, encouraging young people to get involved in the race he loves - the Lydiard Legend through the Waitakere Ranges.
Mr Winson will watch proudly as his son Josh, 8, runs the 5km version of the race next month. It's open to young people this year and eight schools have signed up
"It's brilliant," Mr Winson says.
"It will be very emotional for me. I'm so proud of him and how he's taken to running and sport in general."
Mr Winson of Green Bay was an engineer for Watercare when a horrific gas explosion in Onehunga in June 2011 took parts of both his legs and claimed the life of his colleague Philomen Gulland.
Mr Winson established the Lydiard Legend race in 2004.
He wanted to preserve the track's role in developing long-distance runners after being inspired by Arthur Lydiard who used the ranges to train many top runners including Murray Halberg and Peter Snell.
Mr Winson's passion for running has now driven him to organise 5km and 10km junior versions of the Lydiard Legend race for school students.
They'll take part on the same day as the marathon and half-marathon competitors on September 15, bringing the total number of expected runners to 1000.
"The key is to motivate younger people by making it competitive. Running can be a very lonely sport sometimes but by making it a team event there are more winners," Mr Winson says.
Josh has been training hard for the past year during his lunchtime cross-country runs at ACG Sunderland school and during his own time.
"I'm getting fitter. I really like reaching the point when you get really tired but have to push on," he says.
Lydiard Charitable Trust youth programme trustee Michael Macmillan is impressed by Mr Winson's drive to succeed.
"Ian's certainly got great spirit. We'd been planning to bring the programme into schools for a while but put that on hold after Ian's accident. We're all very passionate about bringing Arthur Lydiard's methods to young people and giving them the building blocks of fitness," Mr Macmillan says.
ACG Sunderland principal Nathan Villars says Mr Winson spoke to students and there was a fantastic response.
"Fifty per cent of our primary students are now involved in the cross-country programme," he says.
Mr Winson says after watching a documentary about Lydiard he decided to form a race in his honour and protect the Waiatarua routes in the Waitakere Ranges where he trained his runners.
He was a keen marathon runner but had to have spinal fusion at the age of 29 after an old high school injury was aggravated by a hockey injury.
He was advised by surgeons not to run again but after 10 years he competed in the Taupo Iron Man.
"I'd never ridden a proper road bike and wasn't strong at swimming but I pulled it all together in the training. It gives me goose bumps whenever I think about finishing that race," Mr Winson says.
Visit thelegend.co.nz for Lydiard Legend marathon registration details.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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