New hip, knees no hindrance for Kevin Murphy

TRIAL RESCUE: New Plymouth’s Kevin Murphy completes a "stern deck carry" as he brings Peter van Lith back to the side of the Rangitikei River.
TRIAL RESCUE: New Plymouth’s Kevin Murphy completes a "stern deck carry" as he brings Peter van Lith back to the side of the Rangitikei River.

He's had a hip replacement and he's got two prosthetic knees, and this weekend he'll put them to the test when he teams up with his son for the Coast to Coast.

Sixty-two-year-old retired farmer Kevin Murphy, from New Plymouth, and son John Murphy, 32, from Otakeho, will compete in the two-day family teams section the gruelling 243km event involving mountain running, kayaking and cycling.

"I'm doing the 3km run at the start. I can't run very well. I've had my right hip done and I've got two prosthetic knees. Then I'll do the 55km bike ride before John takes over for the 33km mountain run," Kevin said.

On day two, Kevin starts things rolling again with a 15km bike ride before tackling the 67km kayak down the Waimakariri River. John has the final bike leg over 70km to Christchurch.

Kevin said the new hip and knees were the result of injuries while playing rugby in his earlier days.

"I started playing rugby with Legs [Ian Eliason] and finished with Colt [Kieran Crowley]. I played a lot of rugby for Kaponga, but all I got out of rugby was a lot of injuries."

Kevin said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"Having had both my knees done has revitalised my life. Last year, John asked me to do the kayak leg. I thought yes, even though I'd never been in a kayak. I did a bit in Taupo and a bit on the Waitara River. Then we went up the Waitara River and came down the rapids. I came out about 10 times that day."

While he's now up to speed with the kayaking, Kevin still rates himself as a novice.

"But I'm a determined bugger and if I come out, I'll just tip the water out and get back in. My goal is to complete the race. If I don't, I'll have to go back next year."

Kevin said the training had been dominating his life over the past 12 months.

"I'm looking forward to getting it behind me. It's something John and I can do together. We'll have a beer at the finish."

John, who is a dairy farmer, has already seen the Coast to Coast close up.

"I've been down as a supporter for my brother-in-law [Tim Burnside]. I watched him do it and thought what a fantastic event. I thought I'd better give it a crack," he said.

John will be tackling the mountain run after his father has completed the opening run and bike.

"The mountain run looks pretty daunting. It should be a good challenge."

On day two, John's mission is to finish the final cycle leg to Christchurch.

"Dad's never tackled anything like this race before, but he should be fine. He's been training hard," he said.

"I've done a few half-marathons and a full marathon, as well as a lot of cycling.

"I've done the Round the Mountain a few times and Taupo . . . a weekend warrior."

This year's Coast to Coast two-day event starts at Kumara Beach on the West Coast on Friday morning and finishes on Sumner Beach in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon.

Taranaki Daily News