Ironman days over after cycling crash

By Mathew Dearnaley

Garth Barfoot wishes Auckland motorists would be as careful as those in France. Photo / Chris Gorman
Garth Barfoot wishes Auckland motorists would be as careful as those in France. Photo / Chris Gorman

Seasoned Auckland triathlete Garth Barfoot hopes to get back in the saddle after an emergency hip replacement following a serious bike crash, but admits his Ironman days are over.

"Realistically, I've got to say goodbye to the full Ironman," the 77-year-old director of the Barfoot & Thompson property firm said yesterday, while recovering at North Shore Hospital from a broken thigh and an emergency hip replacement operation.

But the veteran of 33 Ironman contests, of which he has completed 26 and had until last week hoped to run, cycle and swim in at least two more, remains keen to attend Queenstown's Motatapu off-road triathlon in March - if only in a ceremonial capacity.

"I think they are offering me a job presenting (the prizes)," he said.

Mr Barfoot was injured when hit by a car on a roundabout on which he had the right of way at the Beach Haven end of Birkdale last Wednesday morning.

He recalls looking to his right at the bottom of Birkdale Rd to make sure the way was clear of any traffic to which he had to give way.

The next thing he knew, he was on the ground after being hit by a car from his left, calling out for someone to get its number while concerned about being run over by other vehicles.

"But she stopped anyway," he said of the driver. "I can't recollect seeing her, I just heard her voice saying 'he hit me', which I thought was a strange thing to say, because she hit me."

Because his hands were uninjured, and he was aware a bus needed to get through the roundabout, he started trying to move himself out of the road before an ambulance arrived.

"But as soon as I tried to get up, I felt my thigh."

Mr Barfoot said he didn't hold any grudge against the driver, but wished Auckland motorists in general would be as careful and polite as those he came across in France last year, when he won a world triathlon title for his age group.

"When I cycle in France, drivers are so polite. They don't try to overtake you on a narrow road. French drivers tend to be more patient."

Doctors and nurses at the hospital had remarked on how healthy he was for his age, while remaining guarded about how long he would remain incapacitated.

That has left him using Google to try to estimate his recovery time.

"They're very cagey about how long it will take," he said.

"The surgeon said they had just spent $30,000 on a new hip, that it would be silly to go and smash it, and it will never be as good as your own hip. I know lots of people who swim, cycle and walk well on artificial hips but I haven't noticed any setting any records."

- NZ Herald

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