The Coast to Coast, South Island, New Zealand
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is the longest running adventure race in the world and still a classic. Set in the South Island of New Zealand, which is of course the home of the sport, the race covers 243 kilometres, starting at Kumara on the west coast, crossing the Southern Alps and arriving on the east coast at Christchurch.
The course involves a short run (2½ km) from the beach in Kumara to the first bike transition, followed by a 55km road-bike section, and then a 32km mountain ‘run’ over Goat Pass. This is the end of Day 1 (for 2-day competitors). Day 2 starts with a 15km road-biking leg, which is followed by 70km kayaking on the Waimakariri River and a final 70km on the road bike (usually into a headwind) to New Brighton Beach in the outskirts of Christchurch.
The Coast to Coast can be raced in a number of different formats - as an individual over two-days, as a pair, who compete together and paddle a double kayak, or in a team (with a cyclist, runner and kayaker covering the distance in relay). Or it can be raced as an individual in ‘the Longest Day’, a 243km solo crossing in one day. Sponsored by Kathmandu, the outdoor clothing company which itself was founded in New Zealand, the race has had something of a resurgence recently. In 2018 the race was full for the first time in a decade, with some 900 athletes.
The race sells itself as the ‘world multi-sport championship’ and it is very competitive at the front of the one-day field, with racers coming from around the world. The Coast to Coast is quite heavy on logistics, making it necessary to have a support crew (to ferry your bike and kayak forward and have them safety-checked), but there are options for foreign racers who need assistance. And the race gives a very good look at New Zealand and its adventure sports - while the road-biking is straight-forward, the mountain run is more of a scramble along rocky river-beds and the kayaking requires grade 2 river skills.
James Henderson competed in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast 2018 for How to Spend it magazine and his article will appear in the Financial Times later in 2018. He will also write up his experiences in his ‘Non-Training’ Journal. See the main Coast to Coast website.