Organiser's illness puts Rotorangi Gutbuster in doubt

Graham Campbell can not commit to organising the Rotorangi Gutbuster on his own due to illness.
JANE MATTHEWS/FAIRFAX NZ

Graham Campbell can not commit to organising the Rotorangi Gutbuster on his own due to illness.

After more than 30 years the Rotorangi Gutbuster has been canned - unless a new organiser can be found.

This year would have been the 33rd annual Rotorangi Gutbuster but due to the illness of organiser Graham Campbell it will not take place. 

The 70-year-old has been running the event for the past decade "or so" and has become the face of the event. 

The kayak gets underway in the 2015 Rotorangi Gutbuster multi-sport event held on Lake Rotorangi.
Andy Jackson

The kayak gets underway in the 2015 Rotorangi Gutbuster multi-sport event held on Lake Rotorangi.

However, he has recently been undergoing cancer treatment and admitted he's not a quitter, but said his family didn't want him to take the role on.

"Everyone's told me I have to give it up this year," he said. 

"I will admit it does take a lot of time and a lot of organising."

Kerry Rawlinson & Rick Palmer in transition prepare for the run during the 2015 Rotorangi Gutbuster.
Andy Jackson

Kerry Rawlinson & Rick Palmer in transition prepare for the run during the 2015 Rotorangi Gutbuster.

The Gutbuster is a race that involves a 14 kilometre flat water kayak on Lake Rotorangi, a 12km cross country run, and a 46km road ride that finishes at the Hawera Soccer Club.

People from all over the country take part as well as large groups from local cycling, running and kayaking clubs and on one occasion an international contestant, Campbell said

Campbell has called around the groups to find someone to fill his shoes, offering to help whoever it may be, but has had no luck. 

Josh Payne during the bike leg of the 2015 Rotorangi Gutbuster.
Andy Jackson

Josh Payne during the bike leg of the 2015 Rotorangi Gutbuster.

"It's a shame about this year, but like I said, I've tried," he said. 

Campbell had organised everything with the help of what he calls "personal" sponsors.

A lot of the more than 35 sponsors appear to have been helping him more than they have the event.

He is involved in many committees and helps out the community when he can, even during his treatment.  

"I'm still doing anything and everything, I haven't stopped," Campbell said. 

Vice President of the Hawera Road Cycling Club Paul Plumtree said there were people in the community who were willing to organise the event, but it was "almost Graham's event now". 

"There's a few people around who wouldn't mind having a crack at it, but they are a bit petrified of trying to take over from Graham Campbell, he's a pretty hard act to follow."

Plumtree said he was keen to see the "iconic event" back in 2018, if this year was given a miss. 

However, Campbell was not ready to give in, he never has been.

He would usually begin his planning for the event months ago but is still hoping someone will take the role on, despite having a mere two months before the Gutbuster's normal run date. 

 - Stuff

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