Labour MP Williams joins city councillor to do Kathmandu Coast to Coast in bid to encourage young people in sport

Keen on encouraging young people to get involved in sport and exercise and being fit is why Labour MP for Christchurch East Poto Williams is joining Christchurch City Councillor Glenn Livingstone to compete in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast in February as part of a tandem team.

“I really want to encourage our young people to get involved in sport and develop the habit of regular exercise,” Williams said. “And you can be fit at any age, all you need is a pair of shoes.”

Williams, who has completed one full and several half marathon events, believes that exercise really helps with mental as well as physical wellbeing, knowing it works for her. “Getting out in the fresh air and thinking about my breathing really helps me to sort out my thoughts and my head and I know it works for others too.”

She says that what is most important for her is that the Kathmandu Coast to Coast ends in the eastern suburb of Christchurch, New Brighton, an area that “is just an amazing place and the home of so many outdoor pursuits in Christchurch.”

“I am honoured to represent an area where there is plenty of things going on and people engaged in amazing activities to be proud of. I want to promote what’s going on and have people recognise just what a fantastic place the east of Christchurch is.”

Livingstone is no stranger to the Coast to Coast with four efforts as an individual and two as part of a team in the two day event. The iconic event holds a special place in his heart as the finish line is in New Brighton, his Christchurch City Council ward.

“The Council sees the benefit of what the event means for Christchurch, New Brighton and the greater Canterbury region,” he said. “It brings competitors and their support crews into the city from throughout New Zealand and overseas and generates great media profile as well.”

Livingstone is also very keen on encouraging the younger people of the eastern suburb to “get out there and set goals for themselves and achieve them.”

“Coast to Coast legend Kelly Barber once said to me that ‘you'll find that the only obstacles are in your mind,’ and I'm convinced that by setting physical goals, improved mental health will follow.”

“We need to encourage our younger people to achieve their goals and my hope in undertaking the 2018 Kathmandu Coast to Coast event with Poto is that our youth of various backgrounds will start to believe they can do it too.”

The pair plan to involve the local community in their training efforts, hoping to be joined on training runs by local youth as they build up to February.

For Williams she has the 2017 general election being held on 23 September to factor into her training, acknowledging that once it’s over she will be able to focus more fully on her preparation to compete alongside Livingstone as part of a tandem team.

“I’ll be relying on him a fair bit as we have to complete the entire course over two days together, staying within 50 metres of each other on the bike and run while we’ll paddle the Waimakariri River together in a double kayak.”   

It also just goes to show that almost anyone can do the event with the right support and training. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Livingstone says he loves the event because of its sense of ‘camaraderie and accomplishment’ while traversing the South Island from one coast to another. “I am always inspired by and in awe of the event, and training for it and then doing it alongside Poto really will be special.”