Waimea College multisport athlete Cameron Jones hasn’t done the entire Kathmandu Coast to Coast race before but he knows exactly what to expect when he traverses the South Island in the iconic two-day event this weekend.
Cameron, 16, got his first glimpse of the race last year when he was a member of the victorious Waimea College team that won the school’s section. He raced the 67km kayak stage for the Waimea team and has paddled Waimakariri River a total of seven times as well as completing the mountain running stage in training so he is totally familiar with the intricacies of the 243km journey he faces this weekend.
“I’ve paddled the river with Richard Ussher (five-time Coast to Coast winner and race director) which was really helpful,” Cameron says. “He showed me some of the lines to take and told me about pacing and paddling technique.
“I’ve done the mountain run three times too and I ran it with Richard and Elina (Ussher) on Christmas morning which was good too. I got some new lines on the run – Richard is so experienced.”
Because Cameron is essentially a mountainbiker, he has been riding in Tasman Wheelers road races to get experience in bunch riding. Cameron says the Wheelers rides have been perfect preparation for the first 55km cycle stage which typically involves riding in a big group.
Cameron ‘s preparation for the Coast to Coast also included a solid hit-out when he won the St James Alpine Adventure near Hanmer Springs on January 21. He completed 7km kayak on Lake Tennyson, 65km mountainbike on the St James trail and a 16km run around the St James Homestead, in a fast 5hr 21min 10sec.
Cameron was in good company on the podium at the multi-sports festival with Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning mountainbiker Anton Cooper winning the bike race and world-class triathlete Andrea Hewitt winning the 20km trail run in a record 1hr 23min 43sec.
“I was really happy with it,” Cameron says. “I was first out of the kayak and then went really hard on the mountainbike.
“I was really stuffed after the ride and then found with my running legs so I was able to finish hard. It was the longest race I’ve ever done but the training must be working because I still had plenty left in my legs at the finish.”
Although the mountainbike stage was completely different to the road riding he will encounter in the Coast to Coast, Cameron says the length of the event and the run stage were an ideal lead-up to his main target for the season.
The Coast to Coast has attracted a big contingent of athletes from Nelson-Tasman including last year’s women’s one day winner Elina Ussher. Graham Dawson, Graeme Sellers and Lachie Brownlie are also doing the one-day event.
Phil Harrhy, Lisa Morrison, Rachel Stanyer and Callum Wilkie are lining up in the two-day race while David Ayre and Naomi Whitehead are teaming up for the tandem two-day race along with Dan Busch who is teamed with Napier’s Bruce Richardson.
Waimea College has entered the school’s section again with kayaker Maggie McLean, cyclist Daniel Reid and runner Maddie Mitchell defending the title the college won last year. Ben and Anna Bolitho, Rob Marshall, Matt Hamilton, Maria Voigt, Aimee Burnard and Florence van Dyke have entered the mountain run.
The two-day race starts on Friday while the one-day event starts on Saturday