As promised some of my Coast to Coast advice in reply to questions on my Facebook page.

Grab a coffee. It’s a long read.



Q.     Tell me the whole 9 yards. Looks like an epic event. Worth a trip?

I’ve talked Kathmandu Coast to Coast up a lot over the past five months. In short, it exceeded every expectation I had. Was on my bucket list for a long time. YES!!! Worth the trip.

I had to learn a lot of new skills to be competitive. Road bike – no stress (expect for the 15km after the 30km+ run). The most technical runnable 32km mountain run. To give perspective I ran the same 3:20hrs as I did for the 45km Six Foot Track Marathon race here in Australia. Then add the whitewater river kayak with the decisions of which braids to take on the river? I wouldn’t recommend another endurance event more.

It’s a big advantage to have seen the course beforehand. But it would be one hell of an adventure to cross the island for the first time in the race. Particularly in the two-day format where you’re more likely to have company around you if in doubt. It blew me away the first time I saw the run and paddle courses. Well off the beaten track from a casual drive over Arther’s Pass.



Q.     What would you do differently?

– Start paddling earlier than three months out.

– Add more 3-4 hr paddles at a decent clip. Or find some longer training races.

– Run more technical downhill training when pre-fatigued. eg 60+km Bike 🙂

– Find a river boat in Australia to paddle even if just every few months.

– If serious (like your goal is to WIN) go to NZ for more epic river trips 🙂

Q. Mate can you talk me thru the kayak stage. The training you did?

I started on Fenn Swordfish S. A stable intermediate ocean ski for the first time around the beginning of November.

I built up from 20mins to 70mins on the flat water. Continuous paddles every day if not every second – helps I live on a lake 🙂 The first big paddle I jumped in the deep end. I paddled for the first time in a river down the full length of the race course 70km. Then when back and did it again the next day. I needed food and stretch breaks but the moving water helps you a lot. Even soft paddling you still move in the right direction about 8-10km/h.

I flipped at the very first rock garden and a few more silly mistakes during those first paddles. But it’s good to practice fast self-rescues if you happen to come out in the race. (BTW the top gust roll the big boats back over… wish I could! )

In the months leading up to the race I paddling more in the ocean and built up to 2hr paddles. To be competitive in top few I would need to do a more 3-4hr paddles race pace to be in shape. My first race on a ski was mid-December. A 20km downwind with a beach start. I was crapping myself but got out clean and had a ball. That was a long way at that stage. I was sore!



Now confident the difficulties encountered racing came from the fatigue of bike and run. The one thing I wasn’t ready for was the sore bum! I expected to be uncomfortable sitting in the boat at around the 3-3.5hr mark. But in the race within 30-40mins I was already looking to relieve pressure. The pain then took over and became the focus of my paddle. The main loss of time… and enjoyment.

I used about one-inch foam carbon seat. Same as in my ski. Pre-race I got warned it could cause problems. Hindsight having your sit bones on the carbon seat is the common option. Another point worth mentioning is the position change from ski to river kayak. My feet are a few centimeters apart in my Fenn. Vs in the river kayak shoulder width apart (foot steering against the hull of the boat). Food for thought.




Q.     I’m interested in next year. How stable was the kayak you used over there? I have a Fenn XT here. Are the kayaks you hire about that level.

I was lent the stable Eclipse XL to race in but sounds like there are plenty of options to hire a range of boat levels in Canterbury area. I would have been capable in the intermediate Flow Rockstar. But stayed with Eclipse for stability. First time round it’s hard to know how you’ll paddle with five hours plus of riding & running first. I wouldn’t be comfortable yet in the top level boats.

I still haven’t made it down the complete course without a tumble. Not due to ability, but lack of experience. I was going to T-bone someone who had come unstuck pre-race and bailed. Even in the race I made it down clean 4+hrs through all the rapids before a loss of concentration or relaxation? tipped out on second to the last bend before the finish.



Q. What kind of paddle did you use in the race?

Fenn 3 paddle. Australian Ocean Paddler got me setup on a Fenn Swordfish S Ocean Ski The Fenn 3 paddled on river was excellent. But the carbon is pretty beaten up on the tips. Nothing a bit of TLC won’t fix. I’ve learned that the top guys & gals are all paddling with steel tip river specific paddles.

Coast to Coast New Zealand Rapids


Q.    How hard is it to learn to paddle & how hectic are grade 2 rapids?

The thought of the grade 2 rapids scares more people than actually paddling them. ! Pick a kayak you’re stable in. It’s quicker staying in the boat than floating down river 🙂

As far as the roughness of the grade two. A choppy Gold Coast swell or 2-3 foot breaking creek mouth is comparable. The difference in the river feeling of being pushed into the rapids. In the ocean, you can pause and accelerate as needed.

I didn’t get the chance, but the Australian white water center at Penrith would be good to learn some skills. If you are around Sydney.


Coast to Coast Racing Options

Q. Do I have to race you?     Nope 🙂

One Day event A.K.A “The Longest Day”

The One day race is the World Multisport Championship event. Competitors complete the full 243km kayak, cycle and mountain run course in one day.

The recommendation is to complete the Two Day Event in under 15hrs duration before attempting The Longest Day. Due to the tight course cutoff times.

Two Day event

Sees competitors complete the 243km kayak, cycle and mountain run course in two days. The two-day event is suitable for anyone with a good level of fitness and an adventurous streak.

Two Day event Tandem

Sees teams of two complete the 243km kayak, cycle and mountain run course over two days together. Paddle together in a supplied double kayak.

Mountain Run

For the trail running purist, you can tackle just the iconic 33km Mountain run on its own.



Q. Logistics of actually getting there with gear intact? And if unsponsored would you recommend hiring gear over there rather than flying a bike over etc?

The best advice I could give is training as much as possible with what you are going to race.

Take your bike. It’s not that big of a hassle. Safe in a good bike bag that can be hired from bike stores across Australia.

Take your own paddle. That way you can get used to it training. A splittable carbon shaft like the Fenn 3 is a good option to fit inside your bike case without adding much weight.

A big advantage for the kayak would be to have access / hire the same river boat in Australia as you would race in NZ. But even I didn’t have that. Or pick a ski that is a close match in hull stability. Paddle and train in rough water. Choppy ocean swell gave me confidence for the grade two rapids. But nothing will match paddling on the Waimak. An excellent choice for race practice is the Waimak Classic River Race Early December each year. Run over the same course.

Flying into and out of Christchurch there are plenty of options to hire 4×4’s with bike and boat racks. For on the ground logistics best to check out coasttocoast.co.nz.


Tip: If you are up around Arther’s Pass pre-race and finding accommodation scarce check out Castle Hill Village. A little further down the range, the mountain chalets is where I ended up race week. 

Castle Hill, Arther's Pass New Zealand


Q.     Kits did you wear running and kayaking

To make it easy if you’re starting from scratch here’s a Coast to Coast Gear List suggestions from Kathmandu

All my required compulsory gear was from this list.

My kit was the official Kathmandu Coast to Coast race gear. A cycling jersey and tri shorts made by champion systems.

Q.    Why all this compulsory gear?

I asked the same thing first off. Here’s a story. I went to run the course for the first time and asked what I should take in my pack? The Answer: everything on the gear list? for a practice run?

Yes. 2 reasons.

1. specific practice with the weight of pack

2. more important if you do go down, break something or the like. There’s no phone reception. It gets cold quick. You need be self-sufficient, and you need to be ready incase you need to spend the night. Simple: be safe!



Q.     What goes through your head in the first 5km, 10km, 50km, etc.?How do you keep yourself going?

There’s so much technically happening all the time in this race. It flies by quicker than you imagine. The bike can get a bit stale in comparison. But even then the first ride is in the pack. The 2nd is the hardest 15km you will do after a marathon effort run. The final 70km worried me. But after what you go through to that point in the day it’s small fry to get to the finish.

Concentrating on one sport at a time, even within each leg the race has defining sections to it. 



Q.    The run stage, please. Hydration requirements and ankle supports? We’re can we train?… I wanna give it a nudge

Kathmandu Coast to Coast is so epic you drink the water out of the river as you run and paddle. Read the race notes to know where to stop drinking closer to the roads.

You are running with compulsory emergency requirements like first aid, thermals etc. In my case a few mars bars in a pocket and away I went. I don’t use ankle support but I saw a heap of the athletes getting a free strap up the day before race at the briefing. All my hardened expedition buddies strap as well. Personal preference I suppose.

Strong Quads! Strong Ankles! Train legs strong to handle uphill & especially pounding downhill trails. Then add in the specific skills and agility of rock hopping and running on how should I put it?…. anything but good footed terrain. The rougher the better.

Tip: If you’re running down the street find the tree roots, spring up and over tables, benches. Run along balancing on things. It all adds up.

A note on the run course if you haven’t seen my videos. The first 15 kms is rock intermixed with rooty, damp forest trails. Like you’d see in a Little Red Riding Hood nursery book. I trained for the bigger rock along the coast line at places like Burleigh Point and ran well on this terrain. Australian creek rock is too mossy to simulate the rock you’ll encounter in NZ. At least up in Queensland.

Tip: read up on shoe recommendations specific for Coast to Coast. You DON’T want a high nob trail shoe.

I raced in Salomon Sense Marin from Kathmandu which has a specific wet contra grip on them to help grip on the wet rock

Salomon Sense Marin - Kathmandu


Q.     What was your nutrition plan throughout the race?

I like Snickers and Mars bars in the longer races. I can’t stomach the gels and sports drinks after a few hours. Main aim is to make sure to start taking on fuel and eating right from the start and never stop. Over the day I had a combination of chocolate bars, gels, sports drink, RedBull, peanut butter sandwiches, bananas and river water.

I love racing in NZ where you can drink straight out of the rivers. No excuses to get dehydrated!

I heard one of the big guns even had sausage rolls at the boat transition 🙂 whatever works for you. Savoury seems popular as race wears on.


Q.    What undies would you suggest? Haha nah, the paddle man…. Training for it whilst based on Oz

Undies…. big ones 🙂 that can hold ‘you know what’ as there will be a few of those moments out there if it’s your first time. Every rock garden on the paddle I’d hold my breath… pumping with adrenaline even though I know I can do it. If you like running loose trail downhill then you get that fix as well.


Q.    Are you going to have another crack at it?

Ha… you will have to wait and see. On one hand, I want to go back full tilt and use what I have learnt and give it a good crack. But this is a huge time commitment. The idea of a taking someone from Australia over the two-day course tandem is appealing. As are the beers you get at Klondyke Corner camping the night 🙂 Time will tell. I will be back in some capacity to the Kathmandu Coast to Coast 2018.

Who’s racing in 2018?

Anything I’ve missed shout out on my facebook page

It would be one hell of an adventure to go over the island for the first time in the race!


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