Injured Kara takes to water
Instead of running in Poland next week, Kara Macdermid is staying home treading water.
But for the hot summer, the 15- year-old would have been competing for New Zealand against the world's best junior crosscountry runners in the northern Polish city of Bydgoszcz.
There hasn't been any give in the grounds this summer and Macdermid began complaining of shin soreness in her right leg a few weeks ago. It was diagnosed as a stress reaction, which might have progressed to a stress fracture.
So mum Fiona, and dad Paul - her coach, withdrew her from the Polish trip rather than risk further injury while taking on the world's best over 6km.
That meant New Zealand won't have a team in Poland because Macdermid was the only one who had qualified.
To continue training, she has been jogging waist deep and pain-free on an underwater racehorse treadmill at Tony Bambry's Mangatiti Bloodstock, near Rongotea. It allows her to jog for 40km with minimal impact on her legs.
England's Alistair Brownlee tore his Achilles tendon in February last year so he bought a water treadmill, allowing him to carry on running in his buildup to the London Olympics, where he won gold.
There are only two water treadmills for athletes in New Zealand - in Christchurch and Auckland.
The Macdermid family also often head out to the beach with bodyboards and jump over the waves.
Kara had been keen to travel to Poland despite the shin problems, until her father showed her a picture of an extreme stress fracture with a bone sticking out of a leg.
"I won't run," she said immediately.
Scans on her leg showed lots of hot spots, but they signified she was still growing. "We didn't want to jeopardise her future running," Paul said. "She has moved on."
All is not lost. Her next goal is the World Youth Track and Field championships in Ukraine in July, to race the 1500m or 3000m, and she will still be eligible to race the junior world crosscountry in two years' time.
The family had spent all of December training and holidaying at Falls Creek in alpine Victoria on soft tracks at an altitude of 1700m.
"Everything was normal then. She did a track race [at Massey University] and was running on the limestone track alongside the Manawatu River and not thinking anything of it."
Stress fractures can be an occupational hazard for an athlete. The Macdermids have a friend in Australia who is a world-class runner and has two or three stress fractures.
The Awatapu College student was last year's Manawatu secondary schools sportsperson of the year, won the Australia under-20 crosscountry and, in October, ran the fastest women's 5000m at the Manawatu Community Athletics Track.
- Manawatu Standard
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