Imagine the cross between a triathlon, an ultramarathon, and some off-road pounding… and you’ve got the essence of the Coast to Coast Multisport Race.
Last weekend, I got my first taste of any sort of adventure racing as I followed the 800+ competitors by car and by foot as a member of a friend’s support crew. The Coast to Coast is a notoriously grueling multisport race that horizontally spans New Zealand’s South Island, beginning at Kumara Beach on the Tasman Sea and ending at Sumner Beach on the Pacific Ocean. Competitors choose to complete the race in either one or two days, with the single-day option serving as the World Multisport Championship. Every individual, then, cycles 140 kilometers, runs 36 kilometers, and kayaks 67 kilometers over several stages.
A few days before the race, I accompanied Simon (who elected to do the 2-day race) to Christchurch as we checked, fiddled, and bought all the gear he’d be needing and made our way over to Greymouth, where they race would begin. Along the way, I soaked up the South Island sights that, at times, seemed like a totally different planet from the North Island. The clear turquoise water, Castle Hill, and Arthur’s pass made a big South Island fan out of me.
Daybreak Friday morning rolled around pretty quickly, and both the competitors and their support crews got down to business.
As the athletes churned out the miles, the crews drove ahead to ensure everything would be ready at each transition point. Depending on the event, the transitions required navigating Six Flags-like parking chaos; trekking to the changeover areas with all gear and equipment in hand; waiting for the competitors to arrive and cheering them on as they came in; feeding them and helping them change clothes and gear; and sending them off on the next stage as we re-loaded the car with the used equipment and got ready for the next transition. Here are some shots from the transitions and the landscape in between:
In between days, the 2-day competitors and their crews camped out in a big field. The crews had to be packed up and cleared out before 5am the next morning while the competitors got a little extra shut-eye before their 7:30 start, so the campground was understandably silent by 9pm.
After another full day of racing, transitioning, and supporting, the 2013 Coast to Coast came to an end as each competitor officially finished the journey by dipping into the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, crazy traffic and narrow roads prevented us from cheering Simon in, but he finished in a respectable 40th place among 2-day-ers in just under 15 hours. We found our way to him soon after and got to see the leaders of the 1-day competition steamroll through the finish line. The winner completed the course in a mind-blowing 11 hours and 6 minutes and walked away with the World Championship Multisport title. Although multisport racing isn’t on my personal horizon, I have tons of respect for all those who completed the event and hope they’re all recovering well from the carnage they put their bodies through.
I’m now back in Auckland, staying with runner, coach and PhD student (but not for much longer) Kyle Barnes and his American and Scottish roommates. Kyle has been so good to me, scooping me up from the airport, taking me on some stunning runs, answering my excessive questions about his research, and putting the grill to good use, and I’m loving the view and proximity of the ocean from their pad. I’ll be here for a week before I jet back down to the South Island to meet a girl and her husband who are very near and dear to my heart, and whose visit I can hardly contain my excitement for… Mr. and Mrs. Paul and Callie Thomas!
Happy VDay, friends! So much love to you all!