The sold-out signs are up at the Kathmandu Coast to Coast, 9 months ahead of the 38th crossing of the South Island, earlier than any year in recent memory. One of the original multisport and adventure racing events seems to be appealing to a wider audience than ever before, with over 1050 athletes set to take on the 243km race from Kumara Beach on the West Coast to New Brighton on the East.
Race Director and former competitor Glen Currie says people have fallen back in love with the event and puts a lot of that down to the hard work previous race director Richard Ussher and owners Trojan Holdings have invested into the event. ‘Five years ago, numbers were nearly half where we are today. When Trojan purchased the race, they backed the vision of Richard’s to make the event more inclusive and accessible for as many people that wanted to take on the challenge,’ said Currie.
‘We kind of look at it like, if you think you can do it and you’re prepared to commit to the training and development of skills then you probably can reach the finish line of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast,’ he went on to say.
Ussher who was reasonably vocal in the changes he thought would improve the event when he was a competitor got the opportunity to implement many of those as a race director, such as reducing the entry fees, changing a number of the transitions to be fairer and more similar to other international races and a greater focus on using technology to tell the story of what is happening on the course during the event.
Currie, who is in his second year as Race Director, was extremely appreciative of the work former owner Robin Judkins had done in not only creating the concept but playing such a big part in establishing the events rich history and place in the sporting calendar. ‘People often think of the 2nd weekend in February as Coast to Coast weekend. For 30 something years Robin ran it and created a must do event for many Kiwis and now internationals. The race is unique in the fact that it is recognised as ‘iconic’ this is largely due to Robin’s vision. We’ve just been fortunate enough to have the backing of the new owners to make some refinements and people seem to be excited about the adventure once again.’
In the 37 years of the event the course has literally stayed almost the same, with the biggest change being the shift of the finish line from Sumner Beach to New Brighton Beach, enabling less stress on Christchuch transport resources.
Currie also said the partnership with Kathmandu as the naming rights sponsor of the event has also been a significant contributor to broadening the events appeal. ‘Kathmandu match our values in many ways, they’re about people being outdoors and the adventures that comes from this environment, having them on board has helped us to connect with even more people interested in the outdoors and enabled us to promote the adventure to a wider audience.’
He said the event staff and owners were looking forward to making a few more tweaks in the coming years, which should continue the events appeal. ‘We’ve now got children of former competitors competing and I think that’s something really special and unique.’