Nelson’s Maggie McLean on the final run to the finish line. Photo: Supplied.

Maggie wins Coast to Coast section

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Sixteen-year-old Waimea College student Maggie McLean secured her place as one of the nation’s rising multi-sport athletes after winning the secondary school section of the iconic two-day Coast to Coast event last weekend.

One of the world’s longest running multi-sports events, the Coast to Coast has become almost a rite of passage for multi-sport athletes from around the world with over 18,000 people having completed the event since it was founded in 1983.  Held every February, the six-stage course starts at Kumara Beach south of Greymouth, and traverses the width of the South Island, crossing the main divide and finishing at New Brighton Pier in Christchurch.

The 243km course wasn’t entirely new for Maggie who had raced the kayak stage in last year’s event as part of a three-person team from Waimea College alongside cyclist Daniel Reid and runner Maddie Mitchell.

“I’ve been adventure racing since Year 9 and have done the Junior Get2Go Challenge twice as a team and our team came second in the Hillary Challenge last year, but this was my first proper individual multi-sport event,” she says. “I didn’t start training until quite late and I hadn’t done any road biking before, but I had a goal based on last year’s times.”

Setting her sights on a top ten finish based on last year’s times, while this year’s times were faster, she was happy that her time was faster than anticipated.  Finishing with a time of 15 hours, 55 minutes and 29 seconds, Maggie came first in the secondary school girls’ category and 17th overall in the women’s open two-day section.

“I’m really happy with my time.  Based on last year’s times I would have come eighth,” she says.

Spurred on by her “really awesome support crew” and family, Maggie crossed the finish line with a smile.  And while many competitors might be tempted to take a day off to recover, not only did Maggie turn up at school on Monday, but she’s already preparing for a six-hour adventure race in Reefton this weekend.

The overall winner of the Coast to Coast was Sam Clark with Robyn Owen winning the women’s section.