Race carries on a legacy

That's cold . . . Braving the cool Clutha River, the main body of the swimming field exit the river in the first stage of the Ken Milne Classic in a previous year’s event. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE


The Ken Milne Classic is nearly here, and locals are gearing up to take on the challenge.

The annual event, which includes a triathlon, duathlon, recreational walk or run, remembers the late Ken Milne and his legacy.

Organiser Keely Teunissen recaps the story behind the challenge.

‘‘Ken Milne is a local legend in the rugby community. He played in two All Black trials alongside greats such as Sir Colin Meads and Sir Bryan Lochore. He captained South Canterbury to win the Ranfurly Shield in 1972. This is where our iconic event photo comes from — Ken raising the Shield after their victory,’’ Mrs Teunissen said.

‘‘Ken was a passionate community volunteer, particularly for the local IHC group. You’d often see him at the swimming pool teaching them to swim and dive and encouraging them to stay active. He formed special bonds with these special people and he was very proud of them!

‘‘Ken is mostly remembered for his overall encouragement to get anyone and everyone out and have a go. This is what the Ken Milne Classic is about!

‘‘He coached the Clutha premier rugby team and, as preseason training, he would make the team swim the 800m from the main bridge to train bridge of the Clutha River, then bike 20km on the road to Kaitangata and back, then finish with a 5km run around the aerodrome. This is now the event course and has been since 2009.’’

Mrs Teunissen is ‘‘excited’’ for the event, as it holds a special place in her heart.

‘‘I’m a good family friend of Ken Milne, so it’s great that I get to go from participating every year since it began to organising as well,’’ she said.

‘‘The main thing I love to make people aware of is that we just encourage as many people as we can to give it a go. That’s exactly what Ken was like and that’s the legacy I’m carrying on.’’

The event is run by volunteers and all profits go to the local community.

The event begins at the Clutha Rugby Football clubrooms in Balclutha and there is on-day registration only between 9am to 9.30am. A compulsory pre-race briefing will be held at 9.45am for participants, and volunteers for the race are welcomed.

For more information, check out the Facebook page Ken Milne Classic or contact Keely on 027 404-6072.