South African endurance athlete Robyn Owen says competing in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast is the dream of many adventure and multisport athletes all over the world.
Arriving this week to race in the event for the first time the 26 year old from Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, is seeded second for next Saturday’s longest day World Championship one day event behind three time winner and defending champion, Nelson’s Elina Ussher.
“My goal is a podium finish but I know that might be quite ambitious,” she said. “Just to finish the iconic event will be great and a dream come true. New Zealand is the world capital of adventure and multisport and the Kathmandu Coast to Coast is the premier event so to be here to compete in it is really exciting; I'm chasing a win but not expecting one.”
Owen says she thinks her river paddling background – she has won South Africa's prestigious 120 kilometre Dusci canoe marathon five times - will be an advantage and has confidence she will perform on the rough and technical sections of the mountain run.
A South African representative at World Championship level in canoeing, mountain running and adventure racing she has performed well in mountain running events which include a win in South Africa’s prestigious event, the 42 kilometre Otter Trail, where she set a new course record in October last year.
“The road cycling legs are where I am least confident,” she said. “However, I don't know my competition and in a race it is relative strengths and weaknesses which count. Maybe the other ladies will make my paddling and rock running look terrible. There's not much that can be done now other than to try my best.”
“It's a new place for me, and crossing of the South Island under your own power in a single day is a cool concept. A run over a rugged mountain pass, a paddle down a difficult to access gorge, and a few scenic bike rides all sounds fantastic. The event is unique, iconic and one that the whole community gets excited about. I'm looking forward to experiencing and being a part of that vibe.”
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast kicks off on the South Island’s West Coast with the two day event and mountain run on Friday next week with the Longest Day World Championship event being held on Saturday. Competitors finish in the Christchurch eastern seaside suburb of New Brighton.