EXACTLY 20 years after an accident which crushed his right foot and prompted doctors to say he would never be able to run or cycle again, Invercargill-based endurance athlete Travis Kane will take on the 30th annual Kepler Challenge mountain run.
The Kepler Challenge is New Zealand’s premier mountain running event, following the 60km Kepler Track through the Fiordland National Park.
It is held in conjunction with the 27km Luxmore Grunt.
Kane completed the Luxmore Grant when he was 16 in 1997 – just weeks before he was run over by a truck in Te Anau’s town centre.
Kane’s mother, Debbie Speden, of Makarewa, lived in Te Anau at the time and she remembers a neighbour who worked at a pharmacist in town phoning to tell her what had happened.
She was driven to the scene.
“There were police cars and ambulances with their lights flashing. The bike was under the truck. The first set of wheels had gone over his right leg and the leg was bent around. There was a bit of blood by the knee, but otherwise you wouldn’t have known there was anything wrong with him.”
But the truck had completely crushed almost every bone in his right foot.
“They were going to amputate it. The surgeon decided to have a go at wiring it up.”
The major surgery was successful but Kane was told by doctors at Southland Hospital he would never be able to take part in sports such as running or cycling again.
His older sister, Sacha MacRae, of Te Anau, said she remembered her brother not being too fazed.
“He got around on his push bike when his foot was still in plaster. He headed back to school with his crutches tucked in his school bag.”
The following year, Kane ran the Luxmore Grunt 10 minutes faster than the year before, “just to prove them wrong”, his mother said.
Mrs MacRae said she remembered her brother smashing the school cross-country record soon after that, then hanging up his running shoes.
Kane said he could recall his attitude at the time.
“I was gutted, but very determined. No one tells me I can’t do something.”
Then, watching the Tour of Southland, he became inspired to take up cycling, he said.
By the year 2000, at the age of 18, he competed in the Tour of Wellington and the Tour of Southland.
Since then Kane has competed in 18 Tours of Southland, including this year’s event, riding for the Business South Team.
Around last Christmas, he started running again.
For the first time in nearly 20 years he considered taking up competitive running.
In August, and booked online for the Kepler Challenge.
Although not superstitious, when he saw the date for the event – December 2, 2017 – he guessed it was meant to be.
Kane will be running the Kepler Challenge exactly 20 years to the day of his accident.
In the meantime, he is taking on the Queenstown half marathon this Saturday.
“He’s got such a good attitude about life, he never gives up,” his mother said.