Feeding frenzy

Last updated 11:18 25/02/2013

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It's the athletes that will get most of the kudos at this week's BankLink New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Ruataniwha, near Twizel, but without a lot of work going on behind the scenes, their job would be much more difficult.

Feeding them is a major challenge and in charge of that role with the Central Region Performance Centre, based out of the Wairau Club in Blenheim, are husband and wife Louise and Pete Rodie and Alison Mackenzie. The trio are parents of rowers Geo Rodie and Sophie Mackenzie and that's how they became involved.

All three are well qualified to cook and cater for the athletes.

The Rodies were former restaurateurs in Wellington and Alison is a high country farmer's wife who is used to providing big feeds for her husband and their workers.

Louise is the official camp mum. She co-ordinates the catering operation and feeding 49 rowers, coaches and a team manager is a full-on job.

"It's amazing the amount of food they eat," she says. "Mountains of it. We did three shops at the supermarket on Monday and one of those cost $500.

"We supply their breakfast needs and take it around to the nine houses they are staying in at Twizel. We do all their shopping for them. They just give us a list of food to get, tell us what they want for breakfast the next day and we go and get it."

The trio do breakfast, morning and afternoon tea and lunch, and feeding athletes means the food has to be good.

"Breakfast is usually cereal, yoghurt, toast, fruit and lots of eggs.

"Scones and cakes we bake for morning and afternoon tea and for lunches we have a variety. Bread with all the fillings, pasta salads, fishcake. They just eat bulk, and lots of protein.

"We've got 10 lightweight rowers so have to be careful about the fat content."

Last week at the Central RPC's training camp at Lake Rotoiti the rowers scoffed more than $1600 worth of food, funded by Rowing New Zealand along with a contribution from the rowers.

Feeding the athletes is not as intensive this year, Louise said, because the evening meal is provided by Twizel catering firm Lovely Grub. The days are still long in the kitchen but Louise said, "I love it."

Louise and Pete got involved catering for rowers when Geo rowed for Queen Margaret College in Wellington. She was the camp mum there for four years so when Geo made the Central RPC squad in 2009, it was natural for her to volunteer her and Pete's services.

They now live in Marlborough, having moved from Wellington in 2011.

They have a holiday home and land at Tory Channel and moved to Blenheim so they could spend more time there. Geo has certainly made every post a winner and provided her parents with all the rewards they need for the help they give.

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The baby of six siblings, Geo is contesting three events at Twizel this week, the under-22 single sculls and eight and the under-21 quadruple sculls.

In 2011 she rowed for the New Zealand under-21 team against Australia and is keen to take her career to the elite level. Geo and her Central RPC team-mates won't be able to blame the food or any lack of it if their performances don't match expectations this week.

- The Marlborough Express

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