Man finished The Nugget race on a broken leg

AARON GOILE
Last updated 08:41 21/05/2014
Kevin Pennell

WALKING WOUNDED: Waihi’s Kevin Pennell, second runner from left, finishes The Nugget Multisport Festival event on a broken leg.

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What you don't know won't hurt you. That's the philosophy Waihi's Kevin Pennell had when he finished The Nugget Multisport Festival on a broken leg.

The 46-year-old thought it may have been just an ankle sprain, but the broken fibula is now in a cast, delaying the opening of his new kitchen manufacturing business.

Pennell and a group of mates meet regularly for beer and banter, known as "Trade Night" and it was at one of those catch-ups that the idea of entering their home-town race was floated.

Two teams of four were then set to tackle the 78-kilometre road cycle, kayak, off-road run and mountain bike on May 10.

Pennell's task was the 23km mountain bike, on a track familiar to him from riding there regularly. But 7km from the end, things turned pear-shaped.

"I guess I got a bit relaxed and tired and it took me by surprise," said Pennell. He lost control around a corner and stamped his right foot down to steady himself.

His foot rolled over and he felt something "pop".

But rather than coming off the bike, Pennell decided to ignore the pain and carry on on the downhill section. But when he began the uphill part, his leg gave way when weight was put on it.

At that point he got off and inspected the injury and suspected more of a rolled ankle than anything, so decided he may as well try to push further through the course, not wanting the embarrassment of an ambulance picking him up.

"I wasn't going to give up that easily," he said.

"I was just able to push the pain aside and focus on completing it more than anything. It was actually more painful to walk on than what it was to cycle, so I decided that I'd put the pressure back on my other leg and try and do a one-legged race really."

But The Nugget finishes with a 2.2km team run, which Pennell had tried not to think about. Fortunately, his team-mates were able to support him through.

"I didn't allude to exactly how much pain I was in, to them. I probably just kept it more to myself, thinking ‘Far out, just grit your teeth and carry on'."

Pennell hasn't been told that he did more damage to the leg by continuing. He's glad he didn't let his team down.

"That was a big thing for me, actually, having us all complete what we'd started. I don't like to leave things unfinished, it's just part of who I am really. I might have had a different take if I knew how serious the break was."

Pennell still intends to enter next year's race.

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- Waikato Times

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