What it Takes to Become a Coast to Coast Champion

“Most women look to turning the big 50 with trepidation and negativity.  I decided to do the opposite and turn it into a positive by looking forward to doing the Coast to Coast in 2017.  For the past year I have revolved my life around training.  Not an easy feat when you work shift work in emergency department, have a cherry orchard, run and host yacht charters and try to keep time for “family”.  I think I am fitter and stronger now than when I was 30 years ago.

At one of my events leading up to Coast to Coast, I was lucky to get the best “spot prize”, a Qwik Kiwi coach for several weeks… which turned into several months… thanks Ray.

Kathmandu Coast to Coast
Race morning and ready to go

Race day rocked around all too quickly and I guess every athlete questions whether they have ” done enough”.  I knew I had because I was literally nearly jumping out of my skin! Walking down to Kumara Beach for the start, I visited every portaloo.  It’s not easy in the dark!  I would be lying if I didn’t say I had googled all my competition and knew there was one particular” fit old bird “that would give me a run for my money.  I am secretly very competitive.  I had a good run up from the beach and onto my bike, but lost my glasses at the first transition!!.  I managed to get into a good bunch all the way to Aikens and was very pleased with my time.  My support crew, my husband, son and best friend did a fantastic job and before I knew it, I had my Ultimate Direction pack on my back, bib on , peeled banana and hard boiled egg in hand and off.  First river crossing I fell and hurt my hip… not a good start.  The river crossings were higher than usual and I grabbed any arm that was available to help me cross.  I fell several times onto boulders, roots and one competitor even grabbed my pack as I was floating by in one river crossing.  I was convinced I had made the wrong shoe choice.  Reaching Goat Pass half an hour longer than I had anticipated I was feeling battered and negative.  One of the officials yelled out to me ” its all down hill now”. That was just what I needed and changed my attitude and had a great run down the other side ( even though it wasn’t all downhill).

I knew after the first day that I was 16 mins ahead of Jenni,  however I also knew she was a very good kayaker.  We stayed at Castle Hill… hot showers, comfortable bed, hot meal… bliss!  I don’t do camping anymore, been there, done that!

Coast 2 Coast
Yo, relaxing after the mountain run

The second day was a quick 15 km bike ride to the kayak and sure enough, as expected, Jenni kayaked past me like I was standing still and made the comment ” you’re doing really well”. Well that was enough to bring out that wee bit of ” mongrel” in me.  I paddled my little heart out.  Have only paddled the Waimak a couple of times,  it still manages to terrify my every time and I swear all the way down. I managed to stay in my kayak (I don’t know how), but I did make some bad choices, leading those who thought I knew what I was doing down some braids that left us all high and dry…. ha more swearing!

Out of the kayak, my legs felt like jelly and my support crew dragged me up to my bike and told me Jenni was only just in front of me.  They were telling “porkies”, but it made me think at the time that I could still claw back some time on the bike.  I got into a bunch for the 70 km into New Brighton and as expected faced a strong NE head wind.  I was hoping Jenni was doing it solo, but that was unlikely.

Crossing the finish line is a great feeling and being greeted by Richard Ussher and Steve Gurney was special.

My dear son had downloaded the Coast to Coast app and by his reckoning I had missed the title my 45 sec… Jenni had indeed got me.  Feeling pretty dejected, it wasn’t till the official results online came up, that I realised I had won by 12 mins. YESSSS?

Coast to Coast is an extremely well run, professional event.  I would highly recommend it to anyone and now I can’t wait to turn 60??

– Yo McGill

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