Paddle section has Coast-to-Coast athlete nervous

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Nelson multisport athlete Tim Bygate knows he can ride and run, but concedes he has “reservations” about paddling down the Waimakariri River in Saturday’s Coast to Coast Longest Day.

Tim, aged 54, will be making his Coast to Coast debut when he lines up at the start on Kumara Beach on the West Coast early on Saturday morning. Although Tim is a vastly experienced cyclist and trail runner, he has only been kayaking seriously for four months and says the 67km kayak section down the Waimakariri River will be challenging.

“I’ve only been paddling for the last four months and it’s been more than a steep learning curve, it’s been a learning cliff,” Tim says. “Anyone can walk or ride a bike – you learn those motor skills when you are young.

“But I started paddling at 54 and there’s so much to learn. It’s a very technical sport so I’m very apprehensive about it.”

Tim says he has been deliberately kayaking in rough conditions off Tahunanui Beach to get used to negotiating the rapids and waves he will encounter on the Waimakariri. He has also had one practise run through the upper section of the Coast to Coast course and paddled on the Motueka River whenever there has been sufficient flow.

“There aren’t too many rivers suitable for kayaking around Nelson. The Motueka was pretty low earlier this summer so that wasn’t suitable, so I had to do most of the training in the sea.”

Tim has been trekking around the Richmond Ranges to prepare for the Coast to Coast’s 33km mountain run over Goat Pass and getting in some long rides to get fit for the three cycle legs.

Tim says he has averaged two to three hours a day training with some of the longer treks taking up to 22 hours.

“It’s been a massive commitment and at times it’s been difficult balancing that with my work. I would have liked to have done more training but I’m self-employed, so if I’m not working there’s no income.

“But I know I’ve done enough to finish. I’ll just go out there and race my own race and enjoy it.”

The Coast to Coast will be the first leg in a adventurous treble for Tim who is also entered in the Absolute Wilderness adventure in Hanmer Springs in early March and the Godzone Pure adventure race in the Tasman district in April.

Saturday’s Coast to Coast Longest Day starts with a 3km run from Kumara Beach, followed by a 55km cycle to the foothills of the Southern Alps and a 33km run over Goat Pass. A 15km cycle is followed by a 67km kayak down the Waimakariri River and a final 70km ride to the finish at New Brighton Pier.