Legendary marathon runner Rod Dixon summed up the spirit of the World Masters Games when he stopped in his tracks during a race to help an injured competitor.

The 1983 New York marathon winner and Olympic bronze medallist competed at the mountain biking event at Woodhill Forest in Auckland on Tuesday.

Fellow rider Nick Devcich, 64, was just ahead of 66-year-old Dixon and noticed a man on the track who had come off his bike.

Devcich told the Herald the man was "moaning and groaning and holding his shoulder".


"So like you do, you stop and see how he is and try and get him comfortable.

"We pulled his bike out of the way, and then Rod Dixon showed up."

Devcich said he was so focused on helping the injured rider that he didn't notice his idol had stopped to give him a hand.

"I'm an old marathon runner from years ago and he was one of my idols. He was a top guy and I really liked watching him run.

"I didn't even know it was him until after we finished. I didn't even look at him, we were just worried about this guy who was hurt, we were making him comfortable and trying to find out what was wrong."

Dixon was surprised when asked about the incident by the Herald, saying "oh wow, how did you know about that?"

"I came upon it, I slowed down and I just checked to see if everyone was ok. Got the two thumbs up, no broken bones."

Dixon said he offered to run back to the medical tent to get some help, but was told not to worry and to continue racing.

Devcich said he and Dixon were then joined by another rider, and they attended to the fallen rider for "about four or five minutes".

"We put him up against this log, got him so his arm was comfortable, and then he told us to piss off. He ended up in the ambulance.

"We said 'Nah, nah we'll stay with you mate', and he said 'You guys bugger off, I'm fine, you race, go on'. So Rod said 'C'mon boys, let's go'."

The trio then set off in the order that they arrived, with a "fight to the death" ensuing.

"When we got near the finish... coming down through the last descents, I thought in my head 'Be careful, it's the last one, you don't want to crash it here you just want to get to the finish line'," Devcich said.

He finished the race hand in hand with his running hero.

"[Dixon] grabbed my hand, and I thought 'That'll do me, I'm happy with that'."

Dixon said he was honoured to ride across the finish line with Devcich.

"I'm here to participate, I wasn't looking for championship wins, I just want to participate with people like that and to share the experience with other athletes and everybody else. It was unbelievable, unbelievable."

Devcich said having to delay his run on the course didn't stop him from loving every moment of the race.

"We were right down the field but we still had a great time. We had a ball, I'd do it again tomorrow."

Apart from a quick chat at the finish line, Devcich said he hasn't spoken to Dixon since their tandem finish.

"I couldn't get near him [after the race], everyone wanted a photo with him."

Devcich will be getting back on the bike on Sunday as he competes in the road race at Bruce Pulman Park in Takanini.

St John spokesman Douglas Gallagher said they have had six patients so far who were injured during the mountain biking at Woodhill Forest.

"All were minor and one of them needed transport to hospital."


Over the first five days of the Games 635 athletes have already been treated for injuries.

St John district operations manager Doug Gallagher said of those 635, 24 have been taken to hospital.

He said there has been "a lot of sprains and strains, the odd chronic illness flaring up, such as asthma".

There have been three injuries which St John has categorised as "serious", two sustained at the athletics competition and one in the pool during swimming events.

Gallagher said the advanced age of the competitors at the Masters Games was "irrelevant" to their approach to dealing with injuries at the event.

"The average age... is about 35-45 so it's not that old. There are competitors... there's one over 100, but there's not many in that really senior category, so it's kind of like business as usual for us."

Gallagher said the toughest aspect about providing services during the event was covering all 10 days of the Games across 48 different venues.

"From a patient perspective it's quite an easy event for us to manage, but from a logistical perspective it's really challenging."

Ahead of the event, St John obtained information from the Sydney World Masters Games in 2009.

"In terms of patient numbers and level of sickness that they saw, we were expecting about the same and we're seeing about the same," Gallagher said.

"We're transporting... fewer patients to hospital than they did, which is good, so it's about what we expected."

Gallagher said four people had cardiac arrest at the Sydney event in 2009.

"Fortunately we haven't had any yet, and we hope that continues. However if we do it won't be unexpected."

"I'd say 635 [injuries] isn't a lot, when you divide it by the five days and the number of competitors."