18 June 2014
As entries open for the 33rd Speight’s Coast to Coast, new race director and former five-time event winner Richard Ussher is promising a revitalized event in 2015.
Having taken over the reins earlier this year, Ussher and new owners, Trojan Holdings Limited, will be making some changes to the world’s longest running multisport event.
“It’s about evolving this event and making sure competitors keep coming back time and time again.
“As a competitor myself I know in order to do that you have to be listening to what the competitors themselves want and that’s what has shaped our decisions for next year’s event,” Ussher says.
One of the big changes is a reduction in entry fees across all events, with two and three-person teams saving nearly $1000.
“We want to see more people out there, getting involved and enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer,” Ussher says.
That mindset has also led to a new event, with competitors able to sign up together to race in the tandem team event, competing in double kayaks supplied as part of the race entry fee by Godzone kayaks.
The finish line is also changing, with competitors completing the gruelling 243 kilometre race on Christchurch’s New Brighton beach next year. The event has previously finished in Sumner.
“While the event has had great support from the Sumner community we’ve listened to the strong feedback and have tweaked the last cycle leg a bit.
“The change is to avoid the multiple stops that competitors usually face with the traffic heading out to Sumner.”
“The New Brighton community groups have pledged a huge amount of support around this new race finish and we’re looking forward to seeing a festival at New Brighton beach to coincide with the race,” Ussher says.
Come February 13th and 14th next year, those competing in the iconic, annual event, in the one-day or two-day races, will traverse the South Island of New Zealand, from Kumara Beach on the West Coast to New Brighton Beach on the East Coast.
About the Speight’s Coast to Coast
The Speight’s Coast to Coast is an iconic multisport event based in the South Island of New Zealand.
Held every February the racecourse starts on the West coast, at Kumara beach and traverses the width of the island, crossing the main divide and finishing on the East Coast. In 2015 for the first time the finish will be at the Pier on New Brighton beach.
The race is one of the worlds longest running multi-sports events and is older even than the Hawaiian Ironman. From similar roots Robin Judkins founded the event in 1983 when just 25 hardy souls took on the 243km challenge over two days.
Over the years that grew to a peak of close to 1000 competitors and the event has grown with different sections to suit all those from the professional athletes to the weekend warriors.
The one day race was introduced in 1989 and has the title of the World Multisport Championship with the top athletes covering the entire course in close to 11 hours. The other end of the field sees some in the two-day race taking closer to 24 hours over the two day race.
The Coast to Coast has become almost a right of passage for multisport athletes from around the world with over 18,000 people having completed the event in the 32 years to date.
Competitors leave on foot from the black sands and lush windswept landscapes on the west coast, Running 3km inland to their waiting bikes. Following the Taramakau River to the foothills of the Southern Alps where they switch their bikes for runners and the first true test of the course.
The 33km run is mainly off trail with the rocky riverbed often the only direct line up the valley. Multiple river crossing with frigid crystal clear water and an elevation gain of nearly 800m to Goat Pass and the start of the descent. With the very fastest athletes taking nearly 3 hours the run is as much a test of coordination and strength as it is outright speed.
A short 15km ride follows before the second jewel in the course. The mighty Waimakariri River. 70km’s of braids and a stunning gorge the river section is for many both the highlight and the crux of the race. The water flows swiftly in places and mixes long calm sections with rapids up to Grade two in size. It takes competitors from the heart of the Southern Alps out on to the Canterbury plains where just one final 70km ride stands between competitors and the finish on the East Coast at the New Brighton Pier amongst a vibrant beachside festival.
While the one-day athletes compete the distance in a day the majority of competitors take two days to cover the same course, with an overnight camp at the end of the Mountain run section.
For more information about the changes for 2015 head to www.coasttocoast.co.nz.