New Zealand's Toughest Sporting Event, The 'Coast to Coast'

This is about a legendary New Zealand sporting event called 'The Coast to Coast' held every February. The nicest thing about the Coast to Coast is that it's not just for athletic elites. Hundreds of amateurs also train hard for months to take on this ultimate challenge, usually as part of a team, and the scenes, two days later at the finish, are some of the most euphoric you will ever see.

In one of the posts on our 'Reviews and Testimonials" page I've had a quiet rant about online reviews. My friends say they thought my post was a bit defensive (that's what friends are for for right?) while some others have asked where the accompanying photo of me was taken? This was my reply - 

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It's actually at the start of a trail that's a part of the annual 'Coast to Coast' race, with this year's event held just last week. It's one of the toughest sporting events in New Zealand and attracts contestants from all over the world, including the United States. 

The photo was taken at the start of a section called Goat Pass that I walked with my friends Graeme Moore and Chris Paulsen in 2007. (Chris had earlier participated in the event as part of a team, so he was our guide)

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Over 2-days in February, contestants get themselves from the West Coast of the South Island to the finish on the East Coast at Brighton Beach near Christchurch, a total of 151 miles! In the process they actually traverse the Southern Alps. Some sections are run, some are biked and there's also a river that has to be kayaked. So yes, it's a tough one.

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People can enter as a team or run individually. There are men's teams, women's teams and mixed teams. This year a blind man completed the course with his brother as his guide. Teams can share the course, which means some can choose just to do the running part, others just the kayak and others just the cycling. Or they can all do all of the sections. Then there's the support crews and they have most of the fun including an overnight stay, tenting with their team at the halfway point.

The elites try to complete the course in 1-day called 'The longest Day' - the rest have just one simple objective - finishing within 2 days.

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Heading up Goats Pass.

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This is a mountain river, one of several crossed this way. 

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The last slog across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.

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The morning of Day 2: Waiting for the first arrivals for the kayak section.

Perhaps New Zealand Vacations should enter a team in the 2020 event.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Feb 14, 2019