Sunday, March 4, 2018

Coast to Coast – World Multisport Championships – The Longest Day – My Journey

Coast to Coast was always on my list of must do multisport events after being encouraged by some Australians multisport legends including:-

Narelle Ash - former AR Champion now Skirt Sports Australia);
Guy Andrews - former Surf Ironman Champion turned adventure racer; my team mate in Geoquest 2007)
Novak Thompson - former AR World Champion with Team Montrail & C2C placegetter)
John Jacoby - former AR World Champion with Team Montrail, three time winner of C2C (the only ever Australian to win the event outright); my Geoquest team mate 2007; and cofounder of Rapid Ascent.

So back in 2009 when I was in the middle of an extremely successful year of multisport racing I decided to enter the 2010 Coast to Coast and was really excited. Unfortunately, my recon trip to NZ in December 2009 ended in disaster. The trip was mainly so I could have an opportunity to paddle the course in an NZ multisport kayak, however a ‘weather event’ had meant that the paddle course was unsafe, and a Kiwi friend and also former winner of C2C offered us a stay in his batch at Arthurs Pass, so I could ‘at least do the run’!

As it turned out, just 45minutes in, I was washed downstream whilst being shown the route by three time female winner Emily Miazga. The accident left me with a dislocated shoulder and a helicopter rescue. Emily had to leave me on the banks of the Deception River, while she ran and hitchhiked to Arthurs Pass to get help. I had always had a deep respect for ‘white water’ and to this day I still do, however this incident left me feeling quite anxious about the thought of rapids. I had a speedy physical recovery, however I would not say mentally, so the C2C dream was put on the back burner when I started racing for Team Mountain Designs.

Fast forward 8 years and I find myself in the year of turning the big 50, so I thought, I had better have a crack at this iconic event, before I get too old and regret not ticking the box! Luckily for me one of our favourite Tri Adventure members Dyson Findlay was also planning on the 2018 C2C, so the journey was to continue!

I did not want to focus 100% on C2C as I was still doing all of my AR training and racing and decided I wanted to have another crack at Red Bull Defiance Wanaka as in 2017 the final run was short coursed due to snow, so my preparation was certainly not ideal.

1. Do a white water paddle course – I lined up a weekend course in July at the Nymboida Canoe Centre – thanks to Steve Wise and Cass Kimlin for joining me. Use these skills in the pack rafting leg of Wildside AR.

2. Get out the road bike and ride it once a week after finishing Wildside AR in October - well as long as it’s not raining.

3. Paddle a multisport kayak in a race - entered the Adventurethon Demolish and paddled the famous Time machine – luckily won the event and a free entry to C2C – all the planets were aligning…..or not??

4. Incorporate running on the rocks into my long runs – during the Demolish event gorge run I tore my hamstring not in one place but in three, so no running for a few weeks.

5. Can’t Run; can’t ride big gears on the road bike; can’t paddle a long way because of torn hamstring; what can I do??? Learn how to Eskimo Roll a Multisport Kayak – face my fears and become confident being upside down in the water – thanks Narelle for the expert coaching! So I went kayak rolling training at least once a week.

Click on video:- Kim Rolls Time Machine 

6. Start & Finish the 2018 Red Bull Defiance which included a white water paddle on the Clutha River – might have tired me out a bit, however it was great mental toughness training – our result 2nd Elite Female team was certainly not expected.
Here is the link to our race report:-  MD Wild Women Blog

7. Travel to Nelson to collect the Flow Multisport Kayak for the event – Thanks Kim Myer – I set it up and took it out in the bay at nelson and was stoked to roll it first go!

8. Paddle the C2C Paddle Course – the weather gods were kind on the day we paddled, it was warm and the flow on the Waimakarirri River was perfect – just one swim caused by lapse in concentration – I was stuffed at the end of 6hrs but stoked to have finally completed the paddle course! Thanks Sakkie Myer for your help and tips along the way.

9. Run the C2C Run Course – after one hour I was loving it… disasters this time…well fingers crossed! It was a beautiful day and I was in my element running with eventual 2018 female C2C winner Robyn Owen, her brother Lance Kime, and James Speed with Sakkie as our tour guide!

Stayed in Arthurs Pass for about 9 days in the middle, did some mountain biking and hiking! Why??? NZ is such amazing place, there is so much to explore, so with XPD looming, why not! Oh and there was a huge weather event, so there was little chance of doing much more…..other than just a little 1hr 30min run on the flooded run course with Elizabeth Dornom – facing my fears!

10. Practice transitions, get all my gear sorted and develop a transition plan with my amazing support crew – the Tri Adventure Nuns. Stayed at Hokitika for about 4 days with Dyson and our support crews. We both practiced transitions at the lovely Lake Kaniere just 20k’s away, so finally a chance to take the road bike for a whirl, and did a little more rolling practice – thanks Gina for lending me the White Water specific kayak helmet!

Race Day 10th February 2018 - The Longest Day

One cannot under estimate the enormity of travelling from one side of a country to the other side of a country in one day running, cycling and white water kayaking through mountain passes and gorges that are only accessible by helicopter or speed boat.

Total Distance 244km - Run 2.2km; Road Cycle 55km; Mountain Run 30.5km; Road Cycle 15km &  Run 1.3k; White Water Paddle 70km; Road Cycle 70km

I started by touching the ocean on the West Coast of NZ in the dark, and finished touching the ocean on the East Coast of NZ in the dark. Coast to Coast is what it claims to be……The Longest Day…..and it felt like a very long hard day to me, both mentally and physically exhausting…’s what happened in between!

Leg 1 Run 2.2k - I took it steady, unlike most, however worked on a super slick transition

Leg 2 Road Cycle 55k – This was an absolute buzz – took me back to my road cycle racing days. All those skills of chasing a wheel, adjusting speeds, and just focussing just all came back naturally. I narrowly avoided a collision on a section of dirt with just 5k to go! Phew…..I was glad to make TA2 as any lapse in concentration or mistake by others in the pack could have meant game over! My nutrition for this was Endura Opti and it was just perfect.

Leg 3 Mountain Run 33k – I was greeted in the TA by the Tri Adventure Nuns – my support crew Jan & Shan. The support crews are such a big part of the event, so it is quite a spectacle to see everyone out there in fancy dress helping their athlete and being inspired to one day take on the event themselves. I absolutely loved the run, but I can tell you it was hard, as it just took 100% focus and concentration all the way. The course was extremely well marked and I enjoyed the challenge of looking for the markers and the runners ahead as I ran up towards Goat Pass.

I took some time to look around as it was just such a spectacular place to be! I would have loved to have hammered the downhill, however my internal sensors were holding me back saying – be careful Kim, you just have to get to the end of this run. The run off Goat pass is extremely technical with tree roots and little rocks…..normally my forte….however content to err on the safe side on this occasion! My nutrition on the run was a banana as I ran out of TA, an Ems Power Cookie Bar on the way up, and All Natural Lollies to get me to the TA at Klondyke Corner. I chose to run with Endure Lemon Lime in my bladder and then refill the bladder before the top….I did not mind carrying water.

Leg 4 Bike 15k & Run 1.3k – I was greeted here by Jan who was so excited to see me – I think I said ‘I am stuffed, but I am ok’ as I ripped off my shoes and ran towards my bike! I had been practicing my transitions – the superman leap style, however there was no flying at this stage of the course….so I more slowly got onto the bike, got my feet in my bike shoes and tried to get in some Endura OPTI on the way to the kayak TA. Shan was at the TA with Bern Dornom & Gina as well, I was so excited to see their faces as I hobbled down to the water, trying to stuff a peanut butter sandwich into my mouth…..I had to walk to get down.

Leg 5 Kayak 70k – Steve and Jan were waiting for me and were jumping up and down. The weather seemed absolutely perfect and so advised me just to put on a thermal, I felt so hot, but knew the water would be cold.

So with the help of the crew I got into the Flow Rockstar and set off down the Waimakarirri River…..I was trying to just take in the scenery whilst contemplating the what I was about to embark on – 70k of fast flowing water requiring 100% concentration. I remembered the points that Sakkie described to ensure, I followed my nutrition plan of eating every hour…..however it was so windy in the gorge that you had to hang onto the paddle or lose it… eating was not super easy!

I nailed the big rapids – and the big bluffs without falling in, however I did have a few 360’s where the wind and water blew me around so I was paddling backwards! I did not panic and just used my skills to safely turn back into the current and continue down the rider. Clouds were rolling in and it seemed to be getting cooler, I arrived at Woodstock (final cut off point of the paddle) well under the time and thought just 1hr to go.

I should have stopped and put on my jacket, which was easy to access (sort of), but my mental state was that I could just paddle hard and get to the end. I think I may have been paddling like grandma, however luckily I did not fall in and I was still able to pick good lines, however it did take me 1hr 15 to get to the bridge. I had eaten all of my food – Coke, Whitakers chocolate and a Bumper Bar! My support team were shocked to see the state I was in and were extremely concerned, I was basically hypothermic and my body was not functioning normally.

Leg 6 Road Cycle 70k - Jan and Shan helped me to the TA where I quickly put on dry clothes and tried to get warm. It was so nice to see the Kiwi Julies there as well as Gina & Steve – who should have already left to see Dyson finish! I knew in my head I would be ok, but it took some convincing for the medical staff to let me go on the bike! The word was it was raining in Christchurch, so on went the Gore-Tex jacket. Once on the road in time trial mode, I was beginning to seriously overheat, but I was scared to remove my jacket as I knew how cold I was. I was trying to eat and drink each 5k but was so hot I was beginning to feel nauseous, so I stopped, took off the jacket and set off again. Instantly I was riding 5k/hr faster. Despite the massive head wind and the drizzle as I was riding the final leg, I really enjoyed this part of the race…..pushing big gears I thought impossible at this point, reflecting on where I had been since 6am. It was getting dark, so the AY UP lights on my helmet worked perfectly as I rode towards the lights of Christchurch.  Jan and Shan were in the car following me for safety (they had been told by the Medics to tail me all the way) took off when I noticed I just had 5k to go! As I turned the final corner a lovely lady welcomed me to the east coast…and before long I was off the bike and running up the sand to the finish line….slapping the hands of friends and the crew…..I had tears in my eyes…..Wow, I did it!

My time 16hours 10 minutes and 33 seconds……no records broken! Just stoked to tick the box!

Thanks so much to everyone who was a part of this journey
Mountain Designs
Ay UP Lighting Systems
Trek Bikes Australia
Venture Cycles
Skirt Sports Australia
Flow Kayaks
Em’s Power Cookies
Adventurethon Australia
Tri Adventure
Peter Wood
Sakkie & Kim Myer
Dyson Findlay
Jan Leverton
Shannon McGrath
Steve Wise
Gina Dunsdon
Ken Livingston
Julie Doornenbal
Julie Rooney
Liz Doornam
Bern Doornam
Robyn Owen, Lance Kime & James Speed

I certainly had a great time out there and can see why Coast to Coast is on the bucket list of nearly every Kiwi. This inspires me to encourage more Aussies to have a crack as you just can’t put in words what it is really like without actually doing the race yourself……do it now before it’s too late….but be prepared to learn and develop the skills you need to enjoy yourself out there!

Kim Beckinsale
2018 Coast to Coast Age Group ‘World Champion’
1st Place 50yrs Female Category