Bennett is stepping up to the challenge

By Jared Smith

On a hot Thursday afternoon what could possibly possess an optician on his lunchbreak to repeatedly run non-stop up and down the Durie Hill steps?

"Because I'm crazy, I think," said Kerry Bennett.

The 42-year-old Welshman may not have as many of his Wanganui townmates joining him in the 2013 New Zealand Masters Games, but nothing was going to keep him away from another crack at the stair run on Monday.

Bennett had abdominal surgery in December, but was surprised returning to his fitness regime of his usual cycling and climbing had returned him to peak fitness. Nicknamed 'Mountain Goat' in his university days do his propensity to always be leading the charge on vertical nature walks, Bennett has always loved the thrill of the tramp and the climb.

"I was brought up in Wales, where we climbed the mountains all the time."

So what motivates him to keep putting one leg in front of the other on the raised platform for this his fifth Wanganui games?

"Winning the sense of achievement when you're the fastest."

Then it is safe to assume the other 30-40 people joining him this year on the hellish ascent share that kinship?

"Everyone thinks they're crazy and wonder why they're doing it."

Bennett, usually competing with Wanganui Cycling Club for most of the year, tailored his training towards more stair climbing after the Lake Taupo race in November.

He is also doing cycling at the Masters but when it comes to victory "we'll leave that for other people," his happy focus on the demanding stair climb certainly marks him as a breed apart.

Fellow local Alan Kenny has slightly different aspirations and motivations for his week and a half of competition.

"Obviously the tent to share a few beers during and after is top of the list and it's great to see the games' committee going in the right direction by having affordable food available," said the manager of the Wanganui Community Sports Centre.

As he has done the past decade, Kenny is rejoining his old compatriots in the basketball and cricket he still plays for Station Vogue and United respectively.

"Our Station Vogue team are mainly ex-Wolfpack players that represented Wanganui back in the 1980's and early 1990's.

"Although most of us make up the Thursday night team that plays in the local competition, for us it's great to play against others similar to our ages as well as catching up with some of the guys that we competed against years ago.

"Our cricket team has played in the gold medal round over the past four games resulting [unfortunately for us] in one gold and three silvers."

So while the team enjoys the social aspect like Bennett things can get pretty competitive.

"Trevor Strong and [NZ over 60's representative] Murray Brown are, I suppose, our 'Grand Masters'.

"Both have made valuable contributions over the years as well as a trip to hospital a couple of games ago for Strongy after being hit in the head by a bouncer.

"Who said masters was all social stuff? Bloody Marist," he laughed.


New Zealand Masters Games, Day 1

12.30pm: Yachting, Wanganui Sailing Club.


7pm: Opening Ceremony:

8pm: Doug Stuart

8.30pm: Village DJ Ron Heaps.

9pm: Main Act - Sidewalk Sally.

Started out in the late 80's, but reformed as a twosome five years ago. Featuring seasoned musician Barry McConnachie and vocal talent Donna Dickinson.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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