Veteran set for 31st Buller Half-Marathon

Nicholas McBride

Dunollie coalminer Ivan Davidson will tie up his running shoes tomorrow and line up at the start of Buller Half-Marathon for the 31st time — having never missed a race since it began in 1982.
Davidson, 56, has been running the 21km race through the Buller Gorge since he was coerced into doing the very first one by his brother-in-law. With only three weeks of training under his belt, that first run was far from a walk in the park.
“It just about killed me, that first one,” he said.
But ever since then he has kept making the annual pilgrimage up to Westport. “I love it.”
For him, the race is not about flash shoes, GPS watches or Camelbaks — it is simply about the run itself.
“I just like the atmosphere.”
His fastest time was in 1987, when he came home in 1hr 24min. He has lost a bit of pace over the intervening years but last year he still came home in a respectable 2hr 2sec.
“I just plod along now.”
Nowadays, Davidson only starts his training on Boxing Day, using the rolling hills of the Coast Road as his training ground.
The only man to have run every marathon, he holds no secrets; he does not even warm up before the race.
His 31st time was under threat recently when he was hospitalised with appendicitis, leaving him unable to run for two weeks, but nothing was going to stop him from lining up this year: “I’d run on one leg,” he joked.
Davidson plans to keep entering the Buller Half-Marathon for years to come, even if it gets to the stage he can not run any more.
“Another few years and I might have to walk it.”