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Two day Coast to Coast 2016 – Rachel Baker

Coast to Coast was awesome. It was heaps of fun but of course hard work as well. I enjoyed it heaps and am keen to give it another shot next year. The week before the race was pretty cruisy as I was tapering. It was my first week back studying but I was so excited to race I could barely focus on anything other than Coast to Coast.

I drove from Christchurch to Kumara with my support crew (Mum, Dad and my boyfriend) on Thursday. We stopped to check out the transition points along the way and the start line so we had some idea of how they were set up. At the campsite, I did a last check of my gear and finalised my food so I was all ready for the next day.

Day 1 – 3 km run, 55 km cycle and 30.5 km mountain run

Not long after reaching the start line, we were off on the 3 km run to the bikes. It was a quick scramble off the beach, over some rocks and onto the road – the pace was hot! I got to the bike huffing and puffing. I fumbled getting into my cycle shoes, and just missed getting into a bunch. I tried to catch the bunch, which left me riding by myself for a while until a guy caught up to me. I drafted off him and we tried, but didn’t manage to catch the bunch ahead. A bunch caught up with us and we settled in with them for the cycle. I focused on my nutrition during the ride as I wanted to have energy for the run.

Off the bike and onto the 30.5km run over Goat’s Pass. Early in the run my stomach didn’t feel good so my pace was pretty slow. Two individual females and some team runners passed me. I made myself slowly get through a gel as I would need the energy. Eventually my stomach settled down and with steady running I slowly started to catch people. I was excited to get to the first hut as this meant I was getting closer to the top section of the run where I enjoy scrambling over the rocks and boulders. I lost a bit of time missing a good line. I was super excited to reach Goats Pass Hut. I had a speedy gear check and headed up the rest of the hill. I was feeling pretty good on the way down and picked up the pace. I was over half way through the run and wanted to push hard to the finish. I finished day one in 12th place in the open women.



Day 2 – 15km cycle, 70km paddle through Waimakariri Gorge and 70km cycle to New Brighton Beach Christchurch.

Day 2 involved a nice early start – 4.30am for the support crew. They went to Mt White Bridge to get the kayak gear checked and ready to go. I slept until 6am, breakfasted and started in wave 6 about 7.36am with a few other females. I had a good 15km cycle and a slower run than I wanted in my mountain bike shoes down to the bridge and my kayak. I had a reasonably smooth transition into my kayak. The river was low which meant I had to pick good lines on the top section to avoid being grounded. The rock garden lines were a bit tighter than normal. One person flipped in front of me but I managed to get around then safely. I raced in a Shadow – a stable kayak that let me focus on paddling well. I passed a female early in the paddle. Another female caught me near the start of the gorge and we ended up paddling near each other for most of the gorge. Another guy flipped in front of me in a rapid. Luckily I had picked another line and got past him easily. Throughout the paddle, I continually drank Tailwind to keep my energy levels up. I was excited to reach Woodstock and know that there wasn’t to far to go. The last section required careful attention to avoid getting grounded.

I was stoked to reach to the Gorge Bridge and just have the 70km cycle into Christchurch to go. I had a good transition onto the bike and caught the female who just managed to get away on me during the paddle. We rode together and a guy joined us so we started a small bunch which grew and grew. It was cool for a while before it started to fall apart. After this, a female from a team and I started working together taking turns leading and drafting. I knew the ride was the last part of the race so I kept pushing towards the finish line, and finished with nothing left in the tank.

I finished the 2 day Coast to Coast in 15hrs 18 minutes, making me 10th place overall in the open women. I was a little bit gutted about not placing better, but had a fantastic time and now know what I need to work on next time. My support crew did an awesome job. I couldn’t have done the race without them and the support gave me to even make it to the start line. After my experience racing Coast to Coast I totally recommend others give it a shot.