Multisport: Survivor Ian Huntsman makes long, painful recovery to reach Coast to Coast startline

A man who nearly died three years ago on Aoraki-Mt Cook has made a remarkable recovery to line up for the Coast to Coast one-day multisport event.

The long recovery has meant a short build-up to the iconic South Island crossing - he only began training properly just over a month ago.

Today, Ian Huntsman looks like a fit and agile multisport competitor, but three years ago, his body was completely broken.

He was climbing Mt Cook, when he was hit by a large boulder and thrown down the mountain. Huntsman thought he was dying.

Ian Huntsman - after accident, before Coast to Coast.
Ian Huntsman - after accident, before Coast to Coast. Photo credit: Newshub

"It didn't feel very good, as I was accelerating, and travelling further and further down the mountain, bouncing as i went," he said. "That particular experience has stayed with me most nights."

He landed 100 metres down on a small ledge, where his partner tied him to a rock. Eleven hours later, a daring helicopter rescue delivered him to hospital.

"It was a long journey to recover from that," said Huntsman. "I've had nine surgeries - four on the leg, four on the arm and one on the head."

Now he's about  to join more than 1300 athletes in the 42nd Coast to Coast.

Huntsman, 58, only got his last arm brace off on Christmas Day,  leaving just over a month to train for the gruelling one day event.

"It's a huge step in my journey," he said. "I've had some good times and some bad times during my recovery, and it's been a wonderful experience going from Christmas to now training."

He'll have with him the two pieces of equipment he credits with saving his life - a locator beacon and emergency thermal blanket.

"I know it's going to be a long day and it'll be hard, and there'll be ups and downs, but it's something I've been looking forward to doing my whole recovery."

Partner Wendy Riach, who was with him on the rock ledge and stemmed the blood flow, has been with him along the way.

"I'm exceptionally lucky and i know that," he said.

One more day before he climbs his next mountain...