So begins the Coast to Coast Chronicles (C2C Chronicles for short), a series of posts detailing my latest adventure – participating in the Coast to Coast, the iconic multisport race in New Zealand.
Great ideas are often born out of banal situations – harebrained ones are no different. My ultimate decision to bite the bullet and start working towards a long-held dream of participating in the Coast to Coast seemed to walk the very fine line between great and downright silly. There I was, in Bangalore working on an extremely fulfilling project with the local community, dreaming about flying halfway round the world to attempt to complete one of the iconic events of adventure racing and multisport. The fact that it was much tougher than any other race I’ve ever done before and that I would not have raced for an entire year didn’t seem to faze me. The email was sent and as they say on the banks of rivers near Rome, alea jacta est.
When I started on my journey in triathlon and multisport some years ago, there were a couple of races that I could count as inspirations to my not-quite-so athletic self. In triathlon, it was the Laguna Phuket Triathlon that set me on the path to multisport. Ever since I first saw it on TV, I knew I wanted to be a part of that event. That came true in 2007. I began getting interested in adventure racing while in university and two races caught my attention – the then popular Eco-Challenge and the Coast to Coast. Of the two, the former race isn’t organised any longer while the latter celebrated its 27th anniversary race this year. The Coast to Coast in New Zealand is often hailed as one of the icons of multisport and a precursor to what we know as adventure races now. Having actually done several adventure races in the region, I felt a pilgrimage to the land of adventure sports and being part of an iconic race was due. 2009 was the year.
The email acknowledging my entry to the race jolted me out of my indolent slumber. It was September 2008, barely 5 months out from the longest and toughest physical challenge I somehow willingly signed up for and I didn’t feel like I was even near ready to start training for it. Suffice to say the kids in the villages of the Sarjapur had much reason to laugh for the next couple of months as a strange short-haired, yellow-skinned foreigner began wobbling through their villages quite regularly. The unpaved roads are good training for the mountain run I thought. I’m training well. Right.
After a trip up to Malaysia to rearrange river rocks with my head and kayak paddle, I was grudgingly packed off with a piece of paper that stated that I was a competent whitewater paddler. The scar from my chance meeting with a rock while kayaking upside down hides behind one of my eyebrows – a somewhat manly testament to my commitment to the race and a reminder of the need to stay upright.
And so the pattern began – I began training in earnest with long runs, longer bike rides and vain attempts to get as much kayaking as I could in the placid reservoirs of Singapore. Little did I realise that all the training that I could get in our sunny tropical isle would not prepare me for what New Zealand had to offer. But like the eternal optimist that I was, I thought my preparations were almost adequate.
Cue ominous tune, heavy on the horns and cellos.
Here I come!