Coast to Coast

Last month, CHIA director Floss got us buzzing with inspiration at her goal to compete in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast. We check in with Floss to hear how she’s doing at the coalface of one mighty big goal.

What has been going really well - what small wins have you been celebrating?

I visited, via kayak, the Waimakariri Gorge on Sunday. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Think aqua water, steep cliff faces, blooming rata and waterfalls without a road or person insight. But a bigger win than the scenery was the fact I managed to paddle the Gorge without falling out.

I’ve also met a bunch of inspirational people while training. One that springs to mind is Dan Busch, one of Nelson’s top kayakers. Even though it dramatically impacted his race result Dan let me be his partner in a double kayak in a 3 hour race on Saturday to gain experience #thanksfortowingmeDan

What are the challenges that have been really tough (since we last interviewed you)

It’s easy to see a finish line photo of an athlete and think ‘wow they look fit, they must have nailed their training.’ So it’s been a challenge to become ok with feeling off as the training load gets heavier. Some days I’m flying and others you could only describe it as plodding.

On a lighter note, an unexpected challenge is fitting my tshirts as my biceps have doubled in size thanks to all the training I’m putting in.

What goals do you have in mind to smash on race day?

The first two are definitely all about me and how I race. I want to make it through the Waimakariri Gorge without falling out of my kayak; and I want to place in the top 10 women.

But I also have another goal: in the true spirit of the two day event I want to treat my competitors as comrades. The chances are someone around me will need help at some point. Maybe they need a sugar hit or an extra gulp of water. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone needs a hand when they get stuck between a rock and a hard place (literally) mid-way down the Gorge or up Goat Pass. This comradery is something that drew me to the event in the first place, so I’m keen to get amongst it on race day.

Talk to us about race food.

I’ll be gulping my way through more than a few bottles of Chia and Awaka Sparkling Coconut Water over the Coast to Coast weekend. The magnesium is awesome for muscle recovery and the electrolytes keep me hydrated.

Em’s Power Cookies will keep me going on the run and paddle with Pure Nutrition and a handful of chia seeds in my drink bottle.

Who or what has been inspiring you as you chug through the training?

Last week I met a 16 year old girl who has entered the individual event. She was riding in a bunch for the first time and is yet to ride 70km - the distance of just one of the bike legs at Coast to Coast - but has no doubt she’ll nail it on race day. Not to mention her Uncle David who using the race as a chance to raise money for four charities.

And even though it’s only me racing on the day, I couldn’t do it without the support of family and friends. I’m in debt to Graham Dawson and David Ayre who took me and training buddy Frances down the river in full flood for the first time, Dad and Wei Wei who will be my support crew, and Mum for keeping up my supply of her homemade muesli.

You’ve mentioned the kayak is your greatest challenge. What have you been doing to prepare for race day?

For the last 4 weekends I have embarked on a 3-5 hour paddle, either in the sea or down the river. At times, it’s been tough. The minutes snail by and my arms feel like lead for the rest of the weekend. I am hoping that I’ll feel some improvement in my last big paddle on Sunday.

I’m also grateful for the advice I have been given by Chris of Kayak HQ. Some of his top tips for newbies are what I have been living / paddling by:

  1. Don't expect to master the river straight away. Allow plenty of time to learn and grow your confidence.
  2. Start with flat water skills and work on technique and fitness later.
  3. Doing a course is the best way to learn the skills, but don't assume you'll be a pro after 4 days.
  4. It's regularly said that “it's the paddler not the kayak” and this is very true. Choose an entry level race kayak, or a sea kayak and you are setting yourself up for a good paddle.

Last words for people wish they could set and keep to a scary goal?

Break it down. When tiny achievable goals come together, good things can happen.

Photo cred to Hollie Woodhouse (the awesome woman behind Say Yes to Adventure), the Kathmandu Coast to Coast team and CHIA photographer Marc Gutenstein.

Crafted by Chia blogger, Anna Watson.

News & Recipes, NewsDavid Ayre