Multisporters click in new kayak club

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Ashburton physio Bridget Sheed is competing in the Coast to Coast for the first time.

The biggest contingent of Mid Canterbury multisporters for some years will head to Kumara for the start of the iconic Coast to Coast this year.

The 243km challenge from one side of the South Island to the other on February 7 and 8 will test their cycling, mountain running and kayaking skills in the most gruelling and adventurous way. The athletes choose one or two-day options, and compete as individuals or in teams.

Many of the Mid Canterbury crew have been training as a big group with weekly kayak outings on Lake Hood, as well as cycle sessions and races and off-road runs.

Sam Clements-Stewart, who will compete in the one-day event, set up a group page on Facebook a year ago and has been surprised by the following it has generated – the outcome has been a new kayak club. “We thought we might get a couple on the lake over winter, but we had up to 10, and then we’ve had 20-30 people at different times after daylight savings.”

He said the group had nearly 60 men and women, of mixed ability, age and experience and had been a great sharing ground for people new to multisports. “It’s been good for connecting people and a good way to find training buddies.”

The new club even held championships recently, with Eddie Hobson the overall male champ and Rachel Reid the female champ. Fastest man was Gerard Morrison and the fastest female Rachel Schmack.

Sam said he was aware of 24 locals competing in this year’s Coast to Coast, including nine in the one-day event. “I doubt Ashburton has ever had close to this before.”

One of the hardest trainers has been Matt Amos, who will line up as part of the elite one-day field. Sam, who is in the one-day event, said the athletes were tapering off from big weeks of training in preparation for the event. He was hoping for fine, calm weather and a back wind on the cycle into Christchurch.

It will be Sam’s third Coast to Coast and he said he got into multisport after moving from Auckland to Ashburton. He met Cameron Harcourt in a pub after a game of rugby and started mountain running; that quickly led to other sports.

Kayak races will continue at Lake Hood after the big race and all abilities are welcome. People start arriving from 5pm with racing starting from 5.45pm.