Pulse star Wilkins challenges herself again

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2013
Donna Wilkins
Fairfax NZ
TOGETHER AGAIN: Donna Wilkins, left, will reunite with Irene van Dyk (with ball) at the Central Pulse.

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Donna Wilkins needed to change the subject.

"I don't want to have nightmares."

Mind you, the 35-year-old Central Pulse star doesn't need her subconscious to help her imagine how horrible Saturday's 60km Kepler Challenge mountain run will be. Having struggled through it last year, Wilkins has enough vivid memories to ensure she doesn't sleep a wink between now and then.

After giving birth to her third child last year, the goal attack took on the Kepler as a means of getting herself in shape for the Pulse's trans-Tasman Netball League campaign.

"I played the season and I still competed and I still played well, but you don't get a lot of time to try to focus on losing weight during a netball season," Wilkins said from her home in rural Southland yesterday.

This time round, the motivation isn't shifting baby weight but helping father Ross Loffhagen achieve a notable milestone.

"My dad, this is his 10th year of doing the Kepler and you get a medal every five years, so I did it last year to a) run with him and b) lose weight. This year I said I wouldn't do it again, but it's good to have something else to focus on in the offseason. He says he isn't going to do it again, but I think everyone says that after the Kepler Challenge."

Wilkins completed the run through and over Fiordland National Park in 10 hours last time and wants to knock an hour off that on Saturday.

But that could be easier said than done, as she and her father discovered last weekend.

"My dad and I went down for a training run and we'd planned to run so far, but a section of the track was closed because of snow and we tried to go as far as we could, but it got to a point where if you took one wrong step you'd slide down the mountain because there was so much snow."

She's confident of emerging in one piece, despite the conditions that could prevail, although she has told Pulse coach Robyn Broughton she might not be much use at training next week.

Wilkins missed last weekend's team camp, because her eldest of three children was turning five. Now, with him having started school and the Kepler on, she's had to sit out this week's Pulse sessions.

When she does finally make it to Wellington next week, she'll find herself sharing a shooting circle with a blast from her netball past.

"The last time I played with Irene [van Dyk] was in 2002 at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, so it's a big long time between drinks. We're both professional athletes and we'll get in there and mix it up again and it'll be like yesterday, I'm hoping."

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There was some doubt whether Wilkins would return to the Pulse. She'd always said that once the first of her children started school, the netball bibs would be packed away.

But she's back and for a good reason too.

"I want to win."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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