The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is an Iconic multi sport event that crosses the South Island of New Zealand. Competitors have to run cycle and kayak the route either in the 2 day or one day event, there are various options of teams so schools and families can join in.
The Coast to Coast was something that I had always want to do. Right from when it started back in 1983, but I was mixed up with playing Rugby Union and Rugby league for my home county. So, my paddling was never really up to the quality that would allow me to enter.
Its not that the river is any more dangerous than any other. Its just that you are miles away from help and if you are in there racing alone, they need you to have a pretty good idea of how to handle your boat or board and how to rescue yourself and potential others.
Every February sees the Ironic Kiwi multi sport event start on the Kumara on the West Coast; the finish line awaits on the South Islands East coast at the New Brighton Pier in Christchurch.
When the event started, Robin Judkins the events founder ran the event over 2 days with 25 individuals. The one-day event was added in 1989 and at the events peak there was nearly 1000 participants tackling the 243 km route through the rugged valleys of the Southern Alps.
The race starts with a 2.2 km run from the pounding surf and black sandy beaches of the West coast, you run up to the Main state highway to the first transition point where your bike waits patently for your arrival amidst hundreds of others in the racks. Heading out on to the main state highway that traverses the centre of the South Island via Arthur’s Pass you cycle 55 km through stunning Native forests and the beautiful Taramakau River valley which heads you up and into the foothills of the southern Alps to the next section starting at “Aickens Corner”.
Arguably, the hardest section the 30.5 km mountain run through the Deception, Mingha valleys and via Goat pass to Klondyke corner. The run up the Deception River is foreboding; competitors encounter multiple river crossings with frigid crystal clear water and at times boulders as tall as you are. The 800 m vertical ascent a true taste of fitness and determination as the Mountains of Great Main Divide tower above you. Once at the top of the Goat pass you are then starting to descend to the East coast. There is no deception in the Mingha valley its still a long way to the end of it. Even though you are probably struggling to keep your legs going after the climb the views are amazing and its worth taking a breather, slowing a bit to appreciate the view, actually I believe it is essential.
At the end of this section is “Klondyke Corner” it awaits day one competitors for an over night camp and early start the next day. However, if you are a Longest Day competitor it’s the start of the next 15 km cycle ride via the main state highway to the start of the paddling section of the Waimakariri River. At the Mt White River Bridge, you enter the mighty Waimakariri’s shallow river braids for the first section of 70 km paddle and then on into the single flow of the stunning foothill gorge section. The Grade 2 waters of the River can be exceptionally fast and furious at times and relatively slow and calm at others as they squeeze through the steep solid rock Cliffs. But it never leaves you with out a stunning memory and for many this section is the highlight of the race.
The Waimakariri is your guide all the way thru the remaining mountains to the flat lands of the Canterbury plains. Leaving your equipment for your support team to deal with you walk, run, or climb up the track to your transition area to your waiting bike and equipment. Ahead of you is the final big section,
The 77 km ride to the finish on the east coast. There is one straight section on this section I remember very clearly. You couldn’t see the other end of it as its so far. Half way down this section is a sign it reads “keep going, your half way there” this straight bit is 30 km long !!!! it is usually after noon in the day when competitors are doing this stretch. That is about then the easterly picks up and your heading straight into it, if the sun isn’t beating it down at about 30 degrees then you are very lucky. Soon enough the outer suburbs of Christchurch appear and you swing round and head for the coast and enter the coast road down and into New Brighton, the hardships of the event are put behind you,
For its time for you to dismount your bike and once again Run, it is time to greet the finish line, its only about 300 m but it could be a mile. Under the finishing arch at the top of the bank is the organiser to welcome you home with your Medal.
First in your Class, First ever Stand Up Paddleboard to complete New Zealand’s iconic Coast to Coast.
At 243 km this has to be the Longest “SUP, BIKE, RUN” in the World.Coast To Coast