The Coast to Coast multisport event is one of the most demanding events on the New Zealand sporting calendar.
For a trio of Palmerston North Boys’ High School athletes it was all in a weekend’s work.
The team of Madi Hartley-Brown (cycling), Louis Morell (running) and Wade Bennett (kayaking) combined to traverse the 243 km and win the Coast to Coast Schools division, finishing eighth overall out of 53 in the three-person teams race.
All three were quickly back into the swing of things last week, either competing in the school’s annual Crest to Crest challenge (a week-long multisport challenge from the base of the Whakapapa ski field to the school’s crest in Palmerston North), hiking through the Tongariro National Park as part of their year 13 camp or back training for bigger events to come.
College Sport Media caught up with the trio on their return to the classroom this week.
Louis explained that they had spent much of their summer breaks preparing for the Coast to Coast. “Madi and Wade competed last year and signed up again, while I joined them late last year. We each trained separately throughout the holidays and came together to compete.”
The team met their expectations. “Palmerston North finished second of the boys schools teams last year so we were aiming to win this year, so we achieved our goal,” said Louis.
Louis and Madi were in action on day one. Louis’ run leg included a gruelling 33 km mountain run to the famous Klondyke Corner, after Madi started the event off with a short 2.2 km run and a 55 km cycle leg. “We had an early night and fuelled up to recover,” said Louis.
Madi said the experience of competing last year helped this time around. “Having been there last year, I knew what I was in for and knowing how it all works helped.”
Madi is an accomplished cyclist in his own right.
Last year then then year 12 won both the U20 road race and U20 points race at the NZSS Road Cycling Championships, and he is off to Tasmania from 23-25 March for the 2018 Oceania Road Championships.
At the Coast to Coast Madi had bike legs on both days. “The first ride on the first morning wasn’t so bad, but I had to do a 2.2 km run from the beach to start with that took it out of my legs a little bit.”
“The first ride of the second day was only short, but the last ride was tough because of headwinds and a 40 km dead straight road coming in Christchurch.”
“I’m training for the Oceania Championships at the end of March, so busy preparing for that, with Dylan Simpson from PNBHS in the team as well.”
Part of Madi’s training is cycling to and from school each day. “I live about 40 km south of school, so about three times a week I ride into school and ride home again in the afternoons. I do other training as well, building up to the Oceania Championships.”
Kayaker Wade acted as support crew on the first day, before an eventful 67 km kayaking leg across the central South Island on day two.
“I ended up doing the paddle in 4 hours and 49 minutes – but that was due to cracking my boat about 10 minutes in. So I had get out every 15 km and get in and empty the water out of it before carrying on!”
Other than that, conditions were good for the kayak leg other than some fog in the morning and a few tricky sections on the river.
Wade also plays canoe polo for the school and for a local club, but this was his biggest challenge. He hopes to do more of it in the future.
The trio thanked their support staff that helped them compete at the Coast to Coast event. Wade’s father for driving down and acting as support staff during the weekend, teacher Dan Parrott and John Livingston, the man who first approached PNBHS and got the students into multisport and into the Coast to Coast.
Meanwhile, the Greymouth High School team of Martin McDonald, Ben Williams and Max Rubbo – competing in the open men’s grade - finished three spots ahead of PNBHS in fifth overall.
The Christchurch Boys’ High School team of Euan Coates, Oskar Victor and Lewys Frances finished 11 minutes back in 10th overall, while the Rangiora High School trio of Ben Spark, Dominic Cleary and Jake Churchill were 21st.
The Greymouth High School girls team finished 33rd overall and won the girls school three-person race.
Matthew Clough of Ashburton College finished second overall in the two-day race, while Tiaan McKinnel of Roxburgh Area School was 11th overall.
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