The annual Coast to Coast multisport event is one of the toughest events on the New Zealand sporting calendar.
Last weekend a trio of St Andrew’s College athletes took on the Coast to Coast for the first time and comfortably won the schools race over two days.
The team of year 12 boys Ben Leech and Henry Spark and year 13 girl Fiona Murray (recent StAC student, now living in Wanaka and attending Mt Aspiring College) traversed the 243km on foot, bike and kayak in a time of just over 13 and a half hours.
They won the 3-person schools race by and hour and a half and finished seventh overall out of 61 teams overall in their category. They were also quicker than 48 of the 50 2-person teams, giving them a top 10 finish overall in the combined teams Coast to Coast races.
The other six school teams were from Aotea College, Mackenzie College, St Thomas of Canterbury College, Greymouth High School and Mt Hutt College.
Adventure racing is a growing sport at StAC. Last December they finished 5th out of 12 behind South Island winners Waimea College in the National Get2Go Finals held at the Hillary Outdoors Centre beside the Tongariro National Park.
Coming up, StAC is looking at competing at the SISS Adventure Racing Championships in Gore on 16 March and then the NZSS Adventure Racing Championships in Cromwell on 30 March.
Together, the winning team have answered these questions below about their weekend traversing the South Island.
Who did which leg of the race, how did you split the race up between you?
Fiona started with the 2.2k run off the beach, which Ben then followed with a 55km bike to the start of the run. Henry then ran the 33km of Goat Pass to finish off the day. We finished the first day with a time of 5 hours 43 minutes. The second day Ben did the 15km bike ride, then Henry did the 1km run followed by Fiona who paddled 67km down the Waimakariri River. Ben then took us to the finish line in New Brighton with an overall time of 13 hours and 32 minutes.
What are your backgrounds in each of the events and had you competed together in previous races?
This was the first time we had competed together as a team. However we have all had other experience in other multisport type races including mountain biking and adventure racing.
This was also the first time that a team representing St Andrew’s College had competed at the Coast to Coast.
What were your expectations before the race?
We all knew the course was going to be tough and challenging but to come out with the result we got was above expectations. Henry had a goal to be able to complete the mountain run in under 4 hours and achieved this.
At what point did you know you were competing in this year’s Coast to Coast and how did you team come together in the first place?
We came together midway through last year and entered as a team into the Coast to Coast. The hree of us just decided to do it together. Hopefully next year we may have more than one team.
Did you spend the summer school holidays training?
We trained individually as we were all doing separate legs of the race. We spent a lot of time over the summer holidays training and then came together for the weekend. Our parents were instrumental in helping us train through the summer giving us guidance and support.
How did the race pan out?
The race panned out really well and we did better than expected. Everything went smoothly.
We were in the lead after day one. Day one went really well and there were no mishaps. It’s nearly impossible to tell who is what team during the race, you can just look at the results as teams finish each day.
Day two also went smoothly except we almost left our timing transponder behind at the accommodation (we had to go back and get it) which could have been a disaster.
How exhausted were you after finishing and crossing the South Island, and did you know you had won (the school’s section) and done so well in the 3-person race overall?
We were all pretty knackered after the race, glad to see the finish line. It wasn’t too long after when we knew how well we had done. The results are added to the Coast to Coast app at frequent intervals.
How did you celebrate?
We celebrated at the end then slept! We then met up again at prize-giving the following day.
Tell us about your support?
We had really good support from family and friends. All of our parents were helping and supporting at the transitions and overnight they fed us well. The teacher in charge of Multisport, Greg Thompson, also came along and It was good to have his knowledge and expertise. We want to thank Buddle Findlay for sponsoring us for the event.
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