Nelson man Ethan Bruce has completed the 106km Rainbow Rage not only on one wheel, but also one leg.
The Richmond volunteer fire fighter completed Sunday’s Rainbow Rage on a unicycle, despite breaking his leg in two places just 30 kilometres into the race.
“I went to wipe my brow and I clipped a stone which bounced me sky high, and when I came down my foot slipped and got wrenched in between the fork and the crank,” says Ethan.
“I felt an almighty crack and then my wheel locked and I went flying even further, it was a double whammy.”
He says he never thought of quitting despite other riders offering to use their SOS beacons so he could get a ride out.
“Too many people didn’t believe that I could do it on a unicycle and I had to prove them wrong,” he says.
Ethan fractured the top of his fibula, a bone in his foot and is suspected to have torn ligaments around his fibula.
He was competing in the race to raise money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, which is the charity for the annual Fire Fighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge. Ethan is signed up for the May event and says he will still compete in it despite his injury. “I’ll hop up there on one foot if I have to.”
Rainbow Rage organiser Mike Gane says Ethan is as tough as they come. “That was an effort, I’ve never seen anything like it. The fire brigade must breed them tough in Richmond.”
Ethan says completing the race was hard but he simply “had to finish”.
“I really made a mash of my ankle but I just repressed the pain and pushed on.
“When I got to Jack’s Pass and read the sign that said ‘8km to Hanmer Springs’ I was so happy I almost cried, because honestly, when I got back on after the crash I didn’t think I was actually going to finish.”
Ethan was the race’s only unicyclist and he crossed the Hanmer Springs Domain finish line with a time of 7:11:35.
This year’s Rainbow Rage was the event’s 21st and last. Mike says it simply wasn’t financial anymore.
“After 21 years, the bottom line is the numbers of riders aren’t up there and the costs are increasing. You just can’t run an event of that size and sustain potential losses like that,” says Mike.
“But it’s been so much fun, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed running the Rage through the years. The riders are really neat, positive people and for some of them over the years the Rage has certainly been their Everest and seeing people meet the challenge and climb their Everest is great.”
Nelson rider Henry Kersten won the race, in a field of 210 riders, with a time of 3:32:44.
Ethan has currently raised close to $1000 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand but he hopes to break the $3000 mark.
To support Ethan and donate to the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, visit firefightersclimb.org.nz, click “donate” and then select “Ethan Bruce”.