The Speights Coast to Coast Triathlon is one of the most gruelling sporting events in the New Zealand calendar. It has run every year since 1983 and entries are open for a single week in June for the following February's event. It is invariably over-subscribed.
It consists of 143km cycling, 28.8km running and 67km kayaking.
The race takes the competitors from Kumera Beach on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island, up and across the southern alps and finishes at Sumner Beach on the east coast.
The event is run as a single day competition for some individuals, or a two day event for individuals and two person teams.
The race starts with a 2.8km run, designed to break up the field followed by the first cycling stage, a 58km course finishing at the confluence of the Deception and Otira Rivers.
This is followed by a 26km mountain run over a course that, due to its nature, is always changing - there are several rivers to cross, and the beds are scattered with rock and boulders which create a very hazardous obstacle course. In bad weather, the rivers may be very swift running and crossing them often requires co-operation between the competitors to avoid anyone being swept away. Towards the end of the run, when the competitors reach Goat Pass the course flattens off descending into the Mingha valley to Klondyke Corner, where the two day competitors spend the night.
From Klondyke Corner there is a 15km cycle ride to Mt White Bridge, where the 67km kayak section on the Waimakiriri river starts. This covers shallow and white water and is one of the most challenging competitive distances in the kayaking tour. The event concludes with a 70km cycle ride from the Waimakiriri Gorge bridge, through the city of Christchurch and finishing at Sumner Beach.
The event is the brainchild of Robin Judkins, an abrasive, individualistic, no-nonsense character, who still runs all aspects of race organisation and the pre-race briefing which is famous for his put-downs of the 'old hands' in the field.
Personally, I think it's a madman's game, and I'm seriously considering locking my husband up when he finishes the event next year.
Primary online source www.coast-to-coast.co.nz
Update: my husband and his sister completed the event as a team in 2002, the 20th anniversary of the event. They took 15 hours and 4 minutes to complete the course, finishing 85th of 200 teams. "Living with Insanity" is the putative title of a book outlining this monumental achievement, if I can find a publisher for it. This book will have a fleeting mention of the winner of the event, Steve Gurney, a rant about spending one's 38th birthday waiting in a queue to travel on cancelled ferries, and a full chapter on why 6 portaloos do not constitute sufficient toilet provision for more than 1000 campers...