Nikki King, watching an early blog post of hers. In the video, she’s 60kg heavier and without tattoos. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES
“I never believed I could run, but as I was coming up the hill I got really emotional and euphoric.”
These were the words of Nikki King when she completed Round the Bays in February, a 10km race around Wellington.
A year ago, she was obese, weighing 132kg, and never dreamed in a million years she’d be competing in mass-start race events.
Three weeks ago, she ran the half-marathon distance [21.1km], unaided, around Henley Lake.
Last Thursday marked the start of the weekly Wairarapa Multisport Biathlon Spring Series, which she takes part in.
The biathlon is an inclusive, friendly 5km run around Henley Lake, and a 20km road cycle around Lees Pakarakas Rd.
Last year, organiser Mark Jerling introduced a 2.5km distance, with King in mind.
He wanted to provide a distance that was more accessible for new runners, and those that may be hindered by their current fitness level.
King teamed up with cyclist Sheri Wales and ran this shorter course every week during both the spring and summer series last year.
King now has the running bug, having spent the lockdown carving out an impressive physique.
The thing we’d all promised ourselves we’d do, King did.
“Running kept me sane. I ran every single day of the lockdown. And because we had to stay local, I was just trying to smash my pace out, rather than working on distance.
“I had a 3km loop and a 5km loop mapped out. If I didn’t feel too good, I’d do a 3km and if I did feel good I’d do the 5km.”
Although running came later, CrossFit was something she was introduced to by Allan French, after meeting him on a business course.
French co-owns and runs CrossFit Manaia in Solway, with his wife Ngapera French.
King said she found the pair “totally inspiring”.
CrossFit is a blend of Olympic barbell lifting and bodyweight exercises, worked into circuits with cardio such as running, rowing and skipping.
It’s a full body workout, focusing on compound movements, which target multiple large muscle groups in the body simultaneously.
King said that, while she took some inspiration from celebrities and weight-loss success stories, she was more inspired by the real people she met at CrossFit and the Biathlon Series – people such as Catherine Rossiter-Stead, Sheri Wales, and Allan and Ngapera.
These were individuals that would invariably outperform and outlift her every session at ‘the box’ [what CrossFitters call their gym], but also people from whom she’d always learn a great deal, with a visual target to achieve.
“I was 47 at the time I started CrossFit, and I thought I was going to get to the end of my life not being fit, not being able to do things, not being able to move around comfortably.
“I’m in a band [Spank, a punk outfit], and I’d jump around on stage and I couldn’t even sing my own songs. My body just wouldn’t allow it. If I fell over, I couldn’t get back up.”
King recalled meeting Pauline Sciascia at the CrossFit Games, the sport’s international competition, who began training at 57, 10 years older than the age King started.
The woman got to the final, eventually coming third in the Masters category, aged 65.
“You think to yourself, ‘I should’ve done this earlier in my life’, but actually there’s a really healthy Masters scene out there.
“You’ve just got to keep giving yourself really big goals and putting them out there.”
As for putting it out there, King runs a blog, where she regularly posts videos, workouts and PRs [personal records], challenging herself to improve.
NikkisCrossfitJourney, both a Facebook page and a website, has grown in popularity and serves as her inspiration to better herself, and to hopefully inspire others.
In terms of motivation, King said this had waxed and waned when she was just starting out and struggling with simple exercises.
But she remembered Allan French saying to her, when she placed last in her first CrossFit competition and was feeling weak – “you did beat someone; you beat all the people who didn’t enter”.
The Wairarapa Multisport Biathlon Spring Series, will continue every week until just before Christmas. It requires registration at the Wairarapa Multisports Club website [wmsc.org.nz].