Turner can tick off a 'must do'

Former National Rugby League player Marty Turner completed one of the toughest runs of his life yesterday in the Speight's Coast to Coast - just over a decade after serious injuries in a car crash in Australia.

The 31-year-old Australia-based Cantabrian reckoned he achieved a boyhood dream when he ran across Goat Pass into Klondye corner in the two-day teams race.

"It's tough, I'm probably a bit underdone, but it was enjoyable. I've followed it since I was young fella, watching Steve Gurney, it's something I've always wanted to do.

"But living in Australia the last 10 years, I haven't really had an opportunity with footy and all that."

But Turner hung up his boots last year, playing in the Gladstone competition in Queensland where the plumber worked in the mining industry. He decided now was the time to come home and make his multisport bow.

Turner left Christchurch with older brother Glen in a bid to break into the NRL.

They joined the Melbourne Storm where scrumhalf Marty made his NRL breakthrough in 2002.

He played two first-grade games as a replacement for the injured Matt Orford and made a big impression, even taking over the goal kicking.

But Turner's career suffered a major setback after a major motor accident in Geelong. He and a team-mate were travelling home from a surfing trip to Torquay when their car was struck by a truck and trailer unit.

"It was mainly concussion, I was knocked out for a few days and in an induced coma and had a few internal injuries but everything's good now."

"I missed the whole year and it took me a bit to get back to speed. I sort of missed the boat, there's always new people coming through."

He played just one more NRL game in 2003.

Turner did however go on to play many years in the strong Queensland premier competition where he turned out for Brisbane Norths and the Redcliffe Dolphins.

Yesterday was Turner's first time over the Goat Pass track and he said it had been "hard to train for it in Aussie" because there was nothing like the rock and boulder-strewn course in Queensland.

But he enjoyed the experience, despite suffering cramp in his groin and calves.

Turner's parents, who still live in Christchurch, were at Klondyke to support him.

He said brother Glen, who played more than 90 games for the Storm and the Raiders would probably like to have a crack at the Coast to Coast too.

Turner, competing with Aussie Mark Gardner, 29, said it would be "great running up Sumner Beach" today and he would now target some multisport events in Australia.

The Press