Steve Gurney (BE mech)

This is no ordinary man. Forget that he is a super-coiled ball of muscle and tissue who seems to know no physical limits. Forget even that he regards a 238 km one-day race across the South Island as part of his essential summer. Forget that he loves crashing though gorse and matagouri so that he can pick the prickles out later. Just know one thing about Steve Gurney, and that should be enough. His life is an adventure. Not even a brush with Old Doctor Death himself is going to persuade Gurney otherwise. If there’s not a mountain to traverse, a river to kayak, swamp to slither through, dense bush to negotiate, then he’s not altogether satisfied.

Ironically, the most famous thing about this 40 year old Christchurch super-athlete is that he nearly died doing what he does best. The most remarkable thing about him is that he has come back from death’s doorstep unbridled, unfazed, and, if a little psychologically scarred, certainly as uninhibited about what constitutes a sporting challenge as he has ever been.

In 1994 Gurney caught a severe leptospirosis virus and almost died. He was in Borneo, of all places, competing in the Raid Gauloises teams race out of Malaysia. Gurney’s team came home first, but along the way his brush with bats saw him contract the leptospirosis through a gash in his leg.

Only someone who has come as close to death as Gurney could appreciate the extent of the battle. Having now returned to full health and having won many races since, Gurney has no qualms about admitting the ravaging effect of the virus, which still play on his mind. Nor is he happier than sharing some of the secrets to making a successful comeback after disaster.

Steve Achievements in endurance are too many to fit on this page but in summary, he has one the Speights Coast to Coast a record 9 wins: plus 15 other major successes including being a nominated finalist for the 2002 Halberg Sportsman of the year, the pinnacle of achievement for any athlete.

As well as being a racer, he is also a professional Engineer (BE mech). He spends one half of his time designing innovative equipment for his clients, another half of his time chasing excellence in his sport, and a further half of his time organising his own entrepreneurial enterprises! He further stretches time to include public speaking, personal training and coaching!