Catriona Williams must have done some serious persuading to get friend and fellow New Zealander Mark Todd to run the New York Marathon on 7 November 2010.
“I’m a patron of Catriona’s charity Catwalk and as she’s doing the race in a wheelchair I thought I could do it on my legs,” Mark said.
Twenty Kiwis are taking part in the race to raise funds for the CatWalk Trust, a charity that funds research into spinal cord injuries. Founder and former showjumper Catriona was paralysed in a jumping accident in 2002.
“As people like Rodney [Powell], Ginny [Elliot], and I think even Ian [Stark] have run marathons I thought it was another thing I should tick off,” said Toddy.
“I’m not sure it’s going to be another career though.”
Having bounced back from retirement to contest the Beijing Olympics and now part of the New Zealand performance squad for London 2012, for this eventing legend, anything is possible.
Mark is yet to start training for the race but says he will be looking to hire a trainer and plan his preparation carefully to avoid injuries.
“I’m actually not a great fan of running but I’m going to get started…soon,” he said.
Fitting running around his riding will be a juggling act for the 53-year-old.
“I suppose when the horses go out I’ll have to go on foot and run and lead,” he quipped.
“I haven’t run since I was at school and right now I don’t think I could run to the end of the road!”
Nevertheless, Mark Todd is nothing if not ambitious. He has set his sights on a target time of under three hours for the 26mile race, but has been told that could be a bit hopeful.
“Everything I do I like to do well so I’ll give it my best shot,” he said.
Following the loss of his Beijing ride Gandalf in January, Toddy is relying on the rest of his string to win a place in the New Zealand team for his seventh Olympics.
“Land Vision is a very talented horse and is my best hope at this stage. He’s potentially as good as any horse I’ve had in the past,” he said.
“Hopefully it’ll be a horse I’ve trained myself, though I wouldn’t rule out getting another like Gandalf late in the day.”
Gandalf was produced to three-star level by Angela Lloyd and Toddy took him on just months before the 2008 Olympics.
“He did his job very well in Beijing – he was never going to be amazing at dressage but he jumped clear across country and double clear in the showjumping so you can’t ask for much more than that.”
For more details on the CatWalk Trust see www.catwalk.org.nz.