Coast to Coast: A different approach
After racing the Coast to Coast Longest day for the past 3 summers I decided this was the year to step away… that sounds ominous, but… I didn’t step very far. Instead I raced for a 3 person team in the Corporate Division, we were representing Duncan NZ Venison and I was the team paddler. This was a golden opportunity for me, as the goal for the summer was to improve my paddling, while also taking a slightly more relaxed approach to training. This was the perfect mix. Racing for a team took away the stress and pressure that often comes with the package of racing the Longest Day. And, since I was going to be at the event anyway, I thought I may as well enter the mountain run in the new stand alone event. That would give me something to do on the Friday and the Saturday, as well as provide valuable training for a serious nudge at the Longest Day in 2017.
Day 1: Mountain run.
For those who have never been over Goat Pass, all I can say is that the course is extremely technical. For the majority of the run you are running over river rocks and crossing through icy water repeatedly. I love this terrain and was stoked to be back at Aickens Corner, ready to roll, on the start line. Once the gun went off I was also stoked to have no fatigue in the legs from the usual pre run road cycle! Accordingly the run went strongly. I remembered the course quite well considering that I hadn’t been over it since the race the year before. Things went smoothly until the last river flats, where the lack of training became apparent. Running over rocky terrain is very specific, and as per my summer plan of taking it “easy”, I hadn’t done the work. Cramp was the consequence. I was really hoping to run under 3 hours, but as I stopped to stretch on the flood bank in the last 3km of the run I quickly calculated that this was out of reach… bugger! I got control of the cramp and ran the last stretch as hard as I could without locking the legs up again. Crossing the line in a time of 3.06 was satisfying. It was great to see what I could do over the run and a good bench mark to work from. My time was also good enough to secure me the win in the Mountain Run Event. A great first day! Now the focus switched to recovering for the paddle in the morning.
Day 2: Paddle
The challenge had been set. We were currently sitting 5th in the Corporate Division, 30 minutes or so behind 3rd place. That was the team goal for the day. 3rd place was within reach. Our rider performed well and I was on the water in no time. The paddle went smoothly. I took good lines and felt confident in my boat on it’s maiden trip down the Waimak. However, again, the “chilled” summer had an impact. The longest paddle I had done in training was 2hrs and it was at exactly that mark where the wheels fell off. Oh well. By the time I made the Red Bridge I was well and truly done! Not good! Holding it together I managed to pull onto the beach at Gorge Bridge in a time of 4.39, showing that I still have plenty of work to do in the boat before next summer… But always an epic and beautiful paddle. The team cyclist smashed out the last ride, as I waited at the kayak get out for the Longest Day Competitors to come through. I must say, it was a strange feeling watching the smashed bodies exiting the boat and plodding up to the bikes. Part of me was glad that I wasn’t that ruined… I had had a fun weekend, buuuut a huge part of me was already planning for C2C 2017. It’s the race to prove yourself in and I’ll be giving it my all again next summer. Duncan NZ clawed back the 30 min deficit to take 3rd place in the Corporate section. A successful weekend and a refreshing Coast to Coast experience.
A big thank you to Duncan NZ Venison, Around the Basin, Torpedo7 and O2B Healthy Ltd.