The Kathmandu Coast to Coast Challenge attracts some of the craziest athletes from around the world who make the long journey to New Zealand to participate and test themselves in the ultimate endurance contest. Just reading about the race makes you shudder a little. This is no contest for amateurs or pretenders. This is the ultimate test of physical and mental strength and spirit.
But what exactly is the event, and how hard is it really? We look into it below.
What is the Kathmandu Coast to Coast Challenge?
The iconic Kathmandu Coast to Coast Challenge is a 243km multisport course that takes competitors one side of New Zealand’s South Island to the other.
Athletes complete three disciplines; running, biking and kayaking, each one as gruelling as the next. Now here’s the kicker: the world’s best athletes complete this extreme challenge in around 11 hours. Yep, you read that right. 11 hours?!! That’s pretty crazy and also completely awesome – we are literally in awe of these guys!
There is an ‘easier’ option which sees people complete the course over 2 days but calling 2 full days of non-stop physical excursion ‘easy’ is really doing it an injustice.
It’s fair to say there’s no easy option and you have to be made of tough stuff if you’re going to complete this one!
The Coast to Coast Route
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast all takes place in February every year with registrations opening well in advance.
There are a number of different race categories, the biggest being the One Day Event which is often referred to as ‘The Longest Day’ and is the World Multisport Championship event. There is also the two-day event, two day tandem event, two-day corporate challenge, mountain run and schools event so plenty of options if you want to get involved in 2019.
The route itself starts off on Kumara Beach which is located about midway between Greymouth and Hokitika. It begins with a short 3km run to the bikes where you can really get some distance under your belt in the 55km section.
Then comes the big one. From the foothills of the Southern Alps, athletes will head up and over Goat Pass taking in an elevation of over 800m in a gruelling 33km run section. Those competing in the two-day event will camp after this run section, giving you some valuable rest time.
Those on Longest Day event will hop back on the bike after the descent of 15kms on the road which will take you to one of the signature elements of the course – the kayaking.
Athletes will jump in their kayaks for this challenging but stunning 67km kayak which takes in some grade 2 rapids and is not for the faint-hearted. Taking competitors from the heart of the Southern Alps to the Canterbury Plains, the kayaking is often a highlight for many competing in the race.
Following this stage, competitors will hop on their bikes for one last push – a 70km cycle to the finish line at New Brighton Pier and a chance to join an elite bunch of athletes to have completed this most challenging of multisport events.
Watching the Coast to Coast
Whilst much of the course is inaccessible to spectators, this doesn’t stop them coming out in big numbers to the identified viewing spots along the way.
One of the most popular is obviously the finish line at New Brighton Pier. There is often a ‘carnival-like’ atmosphere at the pier on Saturday as competitors from both the one and two-day events cross the finish line. There will be all sorts going on at the pier from market stalls and an open-air concert to the evening fireworks display.
If you want to get out on the course, two of the best vantage points are the Klondyke Corner viewpoint and the Gorge Bridge viewpoint. Find out more about watching the Kathmandu Coast to Coast Challenge on the website.
A great event to be a part of!
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast Challenge is a great event to be a part of, whether you’re a local or a visitor from abroad.
We always follow it closely ourselves and there’s always a contingent from the GO Rentals team in Christchurch at New Brighton Pier cheering the amazing athletes across the finish line.
If you’re planning to be in the Canterbury region in February over the Summer, make sure you head on down and check it out. Also, make sure you check out the great deals on car rental in Christchurch – we’re not one of New Zealand’s favourite rental car companies for no reason!
For more information about the event including planning and preparation tips and advice, make sure you check out the official Kathmandu Coast to Coast website and get inspired for 2019.