One of my fellow competitors (or participant) mentioned that doing the Coast to Coast as an Individual is a bit of a misnomer. We’re actually competing (or participating) as a team because it’s impossible to do the race without our trusty support crew. I couldn’t agree with him more and my lining up at the start and crossing the finish line would not have been possible without the help of three great and slightly crazed individuals who actually paid to be my willing slaves for three days. These were the three unsung members of Team 354 who had to drive the overladen car, endure the cold, heat and rain but didn’t get to savour the joy of running through the finish at Sumner.
To put things into perspectives, allow me to detail what the support crew had to do while I was busy traipsing across the Southern Alps and its environs.
- Prepare breakfast for me on both race mornings so I won’t have to worry about that.
- Rush to transition points, set up transition according to my specifications and wait.
- Wait some more.
- Scramble at first sight of me, rush me through the transition, making sure everything is accounted for.
- Rush to next transition. Repeat.
- At end of first day, set up camp, prepare dinner and stuff me silly. Then feed me some more.
They also had to manage the mountain of gear that I required for the race which includes and is not limited to: Kayak with all the associated safety gear, Bicycle with all the associated safety gear, Mountain run equipment, shoes and clothes for all events and weather.
I guess the worst part was having to rush to a point and wait long hours (almost 8 hours between transitions at times) only to have to rush through 5-10 minutes of activity, pack up and rush again. Not the best way of spending holiday time but they did it anyway.
And they could still smile after all that…
It wasn’t just a matter of managing the race logistics – they also had to manage one tired and occasionally insecure participant who was unsure about his ability to complete the race. Though to my credit I was able to avoid hissy fits and other undignified behaviour, just keeping up with the race and keeping me focused on the race was difficult enough for them. They were movers, packers, logistics managers, coaches, psychologists and fussy siblings all at the same time. That they were cheerfully doing it all the time was amazing.
All the training and preparation in the world can only bring one that far – it takes a team to get a person to the end of Coast to Coast successfully and I’m proud to have had Team 354 with me from Kumara to Sumner. We were the only Singaporean team there and we were the only Singaporean team to complete the race. That makes us top Singaporeans there. But I digress… Guess it’s time to wax lyrical about the crew and what they did.
Jean was the designated spotter who waits at the transition chutes to spot me and bring me to the transition area. This may seem a strange choice given her relatively diminutive stature but what she lacked vertically she made up in energiser bunny-ness. How could I miss an orange clad, beanie wearing, orange camp-chair waving, ‘oh lo lo lo’ yelling individual even amidst the crowds at transition? She made sure the camps were in order and I was fed and sufficiently watered every time I came in.
Jean doing the patented Jean-rush. Bananas optional.
Lishan was the race-driver (in more ways than one) and kitchen aide extraordinaire. I had her to thank for the many breakfast and snack sandwiches that I inhaled through the two days and she was the driving force behind the chopping and more chopping that went into the dinners we had. She also kept me honest – and reminded me (often) of all that was done just to get my sorry rear end from one coast to the other. Yes it was in a sorry state by the end of the race but would have been worse no?
Lishan trying to smile after chopping the (n-1)th carrot. No wonder one turned orange…
Michael was the pack-slut (and I mean this in the best possible way) who ensured that everything was in place and transitions were arranged in exactly the way I asked for. His meticulous planning and eye for detail meant that the organised chaos that was the car was always turned into smooth transitions. This resident cook also ensured that I was well fed through the race and beyond. Ever the optimist, he was able to get me out of the trough that was the end of the first day and set me back on track to face the river and beyond on the second.
“I wait 7 hours and all I get are smelly clothes?!?!”
Support they did to the truest sense of the word and though I don’t think they realised what they were getting themselves into when I first asked them, I’d say they were the best support crew one could have. Mush aside, I remain humbled by their long suffering efforts in getting me to the finish line and was extremely relieved to have completed the race, ensuring that their work actually did pay off.
Team 354 extends to beyond the crew that came with me to New Zealand – I count very supportive and slightly bemused parents who constantly wonder why I bother putting myself through all these events. I count friends whose little words of encouragement help me through bad days at work and keep me on the edge of sanity. I count the students in the Adventure Race group in the polytechnic whose constant encouragement in training and all the way to the airport I appreciate awesomely. I count Wilson, their coach who became my C2C advisor being the first ever Singaporean to complete the 1 Day event. Thanks!
So it wasn’t this one misguided brush who completed the Coast to Coast 2 Day Individual race but Team 354. Allez Team 354!