Fresh challenge for Rio Olympian Dawson at Kathmandu Coast to Coast

Looking for a fresh challenge after the Rio Olympics Tauranga paddler Mike Dawson has entered the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

Dawson, who was 10th in the K1 canoe slalom at Rio, has entered the two day team’s event with his partner Martina Wegman, a Dutch canoe Slalom and extreme kayak athlete, saying the couple are keen to challenge themselves in the most beautiful part of New Zealand. 

“Since the Olympic Games I’ve been looking for a new challenge to focus on and train for and the Kathmandu Coast to Coast ticks all the boxes,” he said. “It’s a tough, adventurous, iconic event that will test Martina and I physically as it’s so far out of our comfort zone.”

Dawson has used kayaking to explore the world and thinks that the Coast to Coast makes kayaking really accessible to anyone. “The 67 kilometre kayak will take us through a magical part of the country. I’m excited about the paddling that part of the event as paddling in that part of New Zealand is definitely something that I love.”

Each year Dawson and Wegman make a point of travelling to the South Island to heli-kayak in the Southern Alps. “Sometimes its raging class five white water for hours on end, but then just down the road there’s amazingly scenic class two or three white water taking you through some incredibly scenic places; it’s such an amazing part of the world.”  

The couple are focused on improving their cycling and running conscious the whole event will provide quite a different challenge that what they are used to. “It’s crazy for us, our Olympic race is 90 seconds and the Coast to Coast is going to take a quite a few hours. I’m really excited about the running stage; thirty kilometres running through native New Zealand bush, up river beds and just being out there getting it done.”

“The cycling may be more of a challenge. I’m a kayaker with small legs and cycling isn’t my best discipline, but Martina on the other hand is Dutch, so cycling is in her blood, I’ll be chasing her.”  

He says he is really looking forward to lining up with hundreds of competitors who have travelled from overseas and from throughout New Zealand to race, and plans to soak up the atmosphere of the event. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and sharing the experience with a lot of other competitors. There’s the elite level which is way above us, so we’ll be just racing ourselves and enjoying trying to complete the Coast to Coast.”

“We just want to have a good time and tons of fun. I’m expecting to have a great weekend, and rain or shine I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. It’s hard to expect anything else, competing in one of the most beautiful parts of the world with my girlfriend I can’t really ask for anything more.”

His schedule since the Rio Olympics has been hectic and his biggest goal has been trying to convert some of his specific slalom fitness into Coast to Coast multisport endurance fitness.

After the Coast to Coast it will be back into specific canoe slalom training and racing with pre-season races in the Northern Hemisphere and sessions at Auckland’s Wero Whitewater Park as he builds for another  season of World Cups events in Europe.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years so I’m humbled to get the chance to try and join an amazing group of people who have challenged the Coast to Coast and made it to the finish.”