They come in all types on the water

Gisborne's Kim Thompson won the open women's marathon in the NZ Kayak Marathon Champs. Picture by Liam Clayton

THESE kayakers are an interesting bunch.

Take Ben Bennett. He’s from Napier and won the mixed masters’ 65-plus division of the national kayak marathon championships in Gisborne on Saturday.

He and his wife, Julie Murphy, run a psychotherapy and counselling business.

Bennett has a strong surf lifesaving background. He started paddling when he was 13, on surf skis, and was a foundation member of the Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club.

Now 68 and a member of the Hawke’s Bay Kayak Racing Club, Bennett attended his first kayak marathon nationals 10 years ago, in Tauranga.

He couldn’t remember how many times he’d won his division, but this was his second title in the 65-plus age group.

He’d had a couple of years off because of problems with positional vertigo.

“It affects the middle ear,” he said.

“I couldn’t paddle for 18 months — it’s not the sort of problem you want when you’re in a kayak”.

Getting right was a matter of “time and doing the right exercises”.

Bennett said the Waimata River was a good course for a windy day because it was pretty well sheltered, and, yes, he’d return if the event was held here again.

Open men’s winner Andrew Mowlem, of Auckland, has been living in Perth for six months. He’s a mechanical engineer working for a company manufacturing mining equipment, and will be in Western Australia for the rest of the year.

About half his training there is on the ocean on a surf ski, and the other is in a kayak on rivers.

Mowlem’s watersport background was initially in sailing, when he was at secondary school and university. Then he stopped sailing and had a few years running, riding and competing in multisport events.

He started kayaking while training for the one-day Coast to Coast race. He finished “in the middle” and has never done another Coast to Coast, but he enjoyed the kayaking so much he took it up as a sport.

Eight years later, at 32, Mowlem has his second national kayak marathon title under his belt — his first was two years ago, in Wellington. He returns to Perth this week. Beyond that, his plans are fluid.

“I’ll do the surf ski world champs in France in September,” he said.

“I’m not sure about the kayak marathon worlds in China in October.”

Open women’s winner Kim Thompson, of Gisborne, retained the title she won in Auckland last year.

A sprint paddler, she is part of a 10-strong high-performance women’s squad training in Auckland, but it had been an “unfortunate” season.

Thompson had glandular fever to start with, then had elbow surgery in Auckland in December.

“That took me out of contention for selection to the world champs, so I focused on my studies and getting in some good training,” she said.

She’d had a “dodgy” elbow for about 10 years.

“I had a bone chip in there that was causing a lot of problems,” Thompson said.

Ten years before, keyhole surgery had failed to locate the troublesome chip.

This time, the location of the chip had been pinpointed by X-ray and MRI. It was removed and her elbow felt a lot better now.

At 23, she is back in full training. She competed on Saturday “for fun” and to support her local club and parents Alan and Liz Thompson, who were lead organisers.

Saturday’s win has her thinking about going for a spot in the marathon world champs in China but, in the meantime, it’s back to the books.

This is the first year, after four years of part-time study, she has been able to go full-time in her pursuit of a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Auckland.

The plan is to do enough to ensure that next year she has only a couple of papers to do.

Asked about her interest in aerospace, she said that from next year a masters degree course on that subject would be available at the University of Auckland.

“Rocket Lab is just out of Gisborne (on Mahia Peninsula). It would be awesome to be part of what they’re doing.”

Bruce Hamilton, of Auckland, was second in the open men’s surf ski race over 10 kilometres.

Growing up in Gisborne, the son of Dianne and the late Ray Hamilton, he was a promising middle-distance runner.

But Bruce Hamilton, now 52, owes his international reputation to his work as a sports physician keeping other athletes in top condition.

He leads the medical service for High Performance Sport New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

“My role is to make sure we have good health support around all of our Olympic teams,” he said.

“We employ all the doctors and physicians that work with the sports. I have to make sure they have the opportunity to do the best job they can.”

He returned to New Zealand to take up this role in 2013.

Before that he had 10 years in Australia, working with the national athletics and triathlon bodies and the Australian Institute of Sport; five years in the United Kingdom, where he was chief medical officer for UK Athletics; and five years in Qatar, as Chief of Sports Medicine at a new orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital.

Hamilton married an Australian, Tanya, a keen mountain biker. Their children Jackson, 14, and Ella, 12, are into swimming and surf lifesaving.

Hamilton’s legs don’t let him run these days, and he swims “like a brick”. Instead, he paddles at sea with “a bunch of old men” who call themselves the Takapuna Pirates. The kayak marathon champs offered the opportunity of a bit of fun on the water while he was in Gisborne visiting his mother.

THESE kayakers are an interesting bunch.

Take Ben Bennett. He’s from Napier and won the mixed masters’ 65-plus division of the national kayak marathon championships in Gisborne on Saturday.

He and his wife, Julie Murphy, run a psychotherapy and counselling business.

Bennett has a strong surf lifesaving background. He started paddling when he was 13, on surf skis, and was a foundation member of the Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club.

Now 68 and a member of the Hawke’s Bay Kayak Racing Club, Bennett attended his first kayak marathon nationals 10 years ago, in Tauranga.

He couldn’t remember how many times he’d won his division, but this was his second title in the 65-plus age group.

He’d had a couple of years off because of problems with positional vertigo.

“It affects the middle ear,” he said.

“I couldn’t paddle for 18 months — it’s not the sort of problem you want when you’re in a kayak”.

Getting right was a matter of “time and doing the right exercises”.

Bennett said the Waimata River was a good course for a windy day because it was pretty well sheltered, and, yes, he’d return if the event was held here again.

Open men’s winner Andrew Mowlem, of Auckland, has been living in Perth for six months. He’s a mechanical engineer working for a company manufacturing mining equipment, and will be in Western Australia for the rest of the year.

About half his training there is on the ocean on a surf ski, and the other is in a kayak on rivers.

Mowlem’s watersport background was initially in sailing, when he was at secondary school and university. Then he stopped sailing and had a few years running, riding and competing in multisport events.

He started kayaking while training for the one-day Coast to Coast race. He finished “in the middle” and has never done another Coast to Coast, but he enjoyed the kayaking so much he took it up as a sport.

Eight years later, at 32, Mowlem has his second national kayak marathon title under his belt — his first was two years ago, in Wellington. He returns to Perth this week. Beyond that, his plans are fluid.

“I’ll do the surf ski world champs in France in September,” he said.

“I’m not sure about the kayak marathon worlds in China in October.”

Open women’s winner Kim Thompson, of Gisborne, retained the title she won in Auckland last year.

A sprint paddler, she is part of a 10-strong high-performance women’s squad training in Auckland, but it had been an “unfortunate” season.

Thompson had glandular fever to start with, then had elbow surgery in Auckland in December.

“That took me out of contention for selection to the world champs, so I focused on my studies and getting in some good training,” she said.

She’d had a “dodgy” elbow for about 10 years.

“I had a bone chip in there that was causing a lot of problems,” Thompson said.

Ten years before, keyhole surgery had failed to locate the troublesome chip.

This time, the location of the chip had been pinpointed by X-ray and MRI. It was removed and her elbow felt a lot better now.

At 23, she is back in full training. She competed on Saturday “for fun” and to support her local club and parents Alan and Liz Thompson, who were lead organisers.

Saturday’s win has her thinking about going for a spot in the marathon world champs in China but, in the meantime, it’s back to the books.

This is the first year, after four years of part-time study, she has been able to go full-time in her pursuit of a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Auckland.

The plan is to do enough to ensure that next year she has only a couple of papers to do.

Asked about her interest in aerospace, she said that from next year a masters degree course on that subject would be available at the University of Auckland.

“Rocket Lab is just out of Gisborne (on Mahia Peninsula). It would be awesome to be part of what they’re doing.”

Bruce Hamilton, of Auckland, was second in the open men’s surf ski race over 10 kilometres.

Growing up in Gisborne, the son of Dianne and the late Ray Hamilton, he was a promising middle-distance runner.

But Bruce Hamilton, now 52, owes his international reputation to his work as a sports physician keeping other athletes in top condition.

He leads the medical service for High Performance Sport New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

“My role is to make sure we have good health support around all of our Olympic teams,” he said.

“We employ all the doctors and physicians that work with the sports. I have to make sure they have the opportunity to do the best job they can.”

He returned to New Zealand to take up this role in 2013.

Before that he had 10 years in Australia, working with the national athletics and triathlon bodies and the Australian Institute of Sport; five years in the United Kingdom, where he was chief medical officer for UK Athletics; and five years in Qatar, as Chief of Sports Medicine at a new orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital.

Hamilton married an Australian, Tanya, a keen mountain biker. Their children Jackson, 14, and Ella, 12, are into swimming and surf lifesaving.

Hamilton’s legs don’t let him run these days, and he swims “like a brick”. Instead, he paddles at sea with “a bunch of old men” who call themselves the Takapuna Pirates. The kayak marathon champs offered the opportunity of a bit of fun on the water while he was in Gisborne visiting his mother.

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