While most ease off with their training as the Kathmandu Coast to Coast gets closer, one group from the far north of New Zealand is taking on a 1700 kilometre journey cycling and kayaking to get to the iconic event.
A group family and friends of various ages have left Kaikohe in Northland to 'train on the way' on a journey to Greymouth and then inland to Flock Hill Station near Arthurs Pass to then take on the Kathmandu Coast to Coast that starts on Friday the 10th of February.
“There’s no doubt we’re taking the long road to the Kathmandu Coast to Coast” Frank Haimona, who has organised the effort, said.
Haimona, who runs a fitness training company Time 2 Train, said there were 30 competitors coming south to do the event with another 20 joining them as support crew, with 10 choosing to bike and kayak their way south.
“The main reason to do it is the personal challenge,” Haimona said. “It’s such a great event and making the effort to cycle and kayak south was an idea presented by an elder about how our forefathers had ventured on similar journeys, so this is our version.”
“Although we have 10 doing the whole training effort south there are others jumping in and out throughout the country as we head south, so it’s pretty special.”
The group expected it to take two weeks and were planning to make the Interislander ferry in Wellington tomorrow hoping to hit Greymouth on Friday or Saturday this week.
One of the group who is competing in the two day individual event is former New Zealand Maori, Counties and Chiefs rugby prop Lee Lidgard. Haimona said he’s taken his training for the event quite seriously, losing over 40 kilograms.
“He's on fire. He did the 110 kilometre Tour De Ranges cycle event in Auckland in four hours and twenty minutes and has had not had a beer since October. The pub in New Brighton at the finish line had better stock up.”
Event director Richard Ussher was very impressed with the effort being made by some of Haimona’s group to kayak and cycle south to compete in the Coast to Coast, saying he thought it summed up the grass roots nature of the event.
“The Kathmandu Coast to Coast has such a special vibe and feel about it,” he said. “There’s a real sense of family that extends to everyone involved in the race and the effort of Franks group that sees so many not only coming to compete, but to train their way south, really is impressive.”
Ussher said he was extremely happy with how the 2017 event was shaping up with over 700 confirmed entrants and with the fantastic support and collaboration from new title sponsor Kathmandu. There are some incredible match ups in the elite racing and more depth across all the events. It shows that the changes we have been making are gaining traction and we’re looking forward to seeing continued growth over the next couple of years.