For cycling great, Brian Lambert
of Masterton, a Sunday ride was to head off over toPalmerston North, down to Paraparaumu, aleisurely climb over the Akatarawas to Upper Hutt and then a steady grunt over the Rimutakaranges to get back to Masterton. It is littlewonder that, in 1980, or thereabouts, he broke hisown Auckland to Wellington non-stop cyclingrecord, completing the distance in less than 20hours with the assistance of a few cold pies alongthe way. This record is all the more astonishing because he rode almost the entire distance into a cold Southerly wind and he wiped out on thewet railway lines just 800 meters from the finish line. I entered a 10k grass track race inMasterton the following day and who should turn up for the race? None other than BrianLambert, looking rather bleary-eyed from his exploits less than 12 hours earlier! He thrashed thefield, lapping me in the process; his final lap being a demonstration of withering power. Nobodyhas ever attempted to break his Auckland to Wellington record; this despite the road beingshorter, smoother and less hilly; and despite the vast improvements in cycling technology.
Swimming phenomenon, Phillip Rush
trained up to 18km per day in a pool, under thewatchful eye of his coach, the late TonyKeenan. This was during the 1980’s whenPhillip reigned supreme as the Prince of Marathon Swimming. Phillip would meet withme 3 times a week for additional trainingsessions in the Poneke RFC gym. Theseworkouts were so intensely gruelling we wouldfog the windows with sweat and I sometimescrawled out of the gym on my hands and kneesat the end in a state of rubbery exhaustion.Phillip always relished the occasions when anunsuspecting upstart athlete joined in. I alwaysmade sure there was a large bucket strategically positioned for them as their youthful complexions turned a pale green. Two regulars for punishment were brothers Marcus and Matthias Hubrich who both performed with distinction atthe Sarajevo Winter Olympics (1984) and became NZ’s first professional slalom skiers. Theywere fit boys. Phillip set numerous marathon swimming records, including being the only person to swim the length of lake Taupo and then back (Of course!). He had a prior booking inTaupo hospital, but was more interested in cracking the champagne at the finish than a warmhospital bed and IV line. Phillip’s crowning achievement was setting 5 records during the singleswim when he became the only person to complete a triple non-stop crossing of the EnglishChannel. His main problem during that swim was dodging large ships, assorted debris and oilslicks. Most of Phillip’s swimming records remain unchallenged today. Phillip is regarded asthe greatest ever marathon swimmer because of his combination of speed and unstoppableendurance.
Max Telford was one of seven (fool?) hardy runners
who, in 1972, set out from theAuckland Post Office to run to Wellington Post Office (refer my notes on this racehere). Maxcompleted the distance in just 6 days (I cannot recall the exact time). He later set records for