How to pick a new summer sport (and survive)

How many times have you thought “I’ve always wanted to..” or “...I wish I could do that”. With summer suddenly upon us, the parks are thronging with joggers, the bikers are out by the bucketload and our Facebook feeds are showcasing a reel of people striking sporty and/or adventurous poses. Everyone seems to be taking up a new (or old) sport, entering events or at the very least getting outdoors as much as possible.

If you’re still thinking “I wish I could learn to... [insert fun but seriously intimidating outdoors activity here]”, then read on! This post is the first of a three part blog series about CHIA’s very own Flossie Van Dyke’s journey to picking an impossible challenge (and surviving!).

Tell us about the challenge you have set yourself for this summer

Six weeks ago I entered the Kathmandu Coast to Coast. Everyone has different limits, and this event is definitely pushing mine. The race involves getting yourself from the West Coast of Aotearoa to the East Coast. In summary I've signed up to scramble over boulders for 30km, squeeze into a kayak and paddle down white water for almost 70km and top it off with over 100km of cycling. Did I mention that somewhere in there I’m getting myself over the Southern Alps? It’s going to be incredibly beautiful and incredibly challenging.

The course outline: piece of cake!

What made you decide to take on this challenge?

Where it all began for me: CHIA parking up to fuel hungry athletes at Klondyke Corner

CHIA has sponsored the Kathmandu Coast to Coast for the last two years. We spend the day at Klondyke Corner fuelling athletes with Chia as they recover from the hills of Goat Pass and in preparation for the 4-8 hour kayak down the Waimakariri Gorge.

Supporters at Sumner

The mood at Klondyke is unbelieveable. At the event in the past I’ve thought that the clapping, cheering, and morale-boosting vibes was enough to make anyone want to join in. For most competitors the Kathmandu Coast to Coast is the culmination of a lifetime goal and the atmosphere  is certainly a reflection of that. So this year I decided to bite the bullet and enter!

Why is this an ‘impossible’ challenge for you to sink your teeth into?

The event involves 70 kilometres of padding along the Waimakariri River. I haven’t passed my Grade 2 kayaking certificate which is required for entering and am yet to paddle down the Waimakariri rapids. But the kayak component presents some interesting challenges before I even get in the water. It turns out that kayak-carrying is a sport in itself.

The struggle of hauling my kayak from the water to my car is real. I have been assisted by a range of passerby (including an entire Taiwanese family visiting on holiday) who pity my awkward stumble up the beach. The final mammoth effort in this underrated but highly challenging sport comes with lifting the long boat over my head to the roof of my Mum's car. The efforts are reflected permanently in the scraped paint along the top left hand panel of her vehicle (sorry, Mum).

What are your top tips for other people wanting to set their own ‘impossible’ summer goal

1.Pick a cheer squad who is there for you before as well as during the race. To name just a couple, Chris West at Kayak HQ has been a legend teaching me to kayak, my training buddies Frances, Olivia and Hannah are literally the reason I leave the house to get training and I couldn’t even make a start on said training without CHIA team mate David Ayre (an elite Coast to Coast athlete himself).

2. Start out slow and stay consistent rather than doing too much too soon. Some days I hit snooze three times and I’m not in the mood but if I just get up and get out the door then I know I’m already halfway there.

3.Work on your mindset as much as you workout your body. For me, learning to paddle rivers isn’t a strength test; it’s a “staying-calm-and-collected-in fast-flowing-rapids” test.

How can we follow your journey?

Follow us on instagram @chianewzealand or keep an eye on our monthly blogs at

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.

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