Two-time Australian Olympian Courtney Atkinson will undertake a 243 kilometre journey from one side of New Zealand to the other next month in his first attempt at the Kathmandu Coast to Coast World Championship event.
The one-day race, held on February 11, is also known as The Longest Day, an 11 plus hour multi-sport race contested from the South Island’s west coast to east, finishing in the Christchurch seaside suburb of New Brighton.
It sees competitors start with a two kilometre run before switching to bikes for 55 kilometres, a 30.5 kilometre mountain run and another 15 kilometres of road cycling before tackling 70 kilometres of rapids in a kayak.
Competitors then embark on another 70 kilometres of cycling across the Canterbury Plains to the finish line at New Brighton Beach.
Gold Coast resident Atkinson has been named Australian ambassador for the race’s naming rights sponsor, Kathmandu.
Atkinson represented Australia in the triathlon at the Beijing and London Olympics, where he was the best-performed Australian male triathlete at both games.
A highly-decorated endurance athlete, Atkinson will have just 12 weeks to get himself ready for the race – including getting used to kayaking – a sport he’s not traditionally familiar with.
“Simply being able to sit in the kayak for over four hours is going to be the biggest challenge,” he said.
“Otherwise I’m using what I learnt and what’s worked for nearly 20 years at the peak of my triathlon training. I’m training multiple times a day and trying to emulate the conditions where possible on the Gold Coast.”
Atkinson tackled the course last year over a weekend with five time World Championship Longest Day winner Richard Ussher, who is now the event’s Race Director, and Ussher’s wife three time winner and defending women’s One Day Champion, Elina, saying it was “difficult.”
“It’s much longer than an ironman and the terrain is much harder than riding up a road or running a marathon,” he said.
“It’s a massive challenge but I just love the course. The terrain is what makes the event so unique. The distance is one thing but the challenge, beauty and roughness of the course is what is so exciting about it.”
Entries officially close on January 15, after which there is a late penalty fee added to the standard entry fees.