Coast to Coast 2021: Ryan Kiesanowski’s resilient ride to 3rd place

If you’re into multisport events, you’ll likely have heard of Coast to Coast. Held in the South Island of New Zealand, Coast to Coast is a multisport race that involves long-distance running, biking, and kayaking across the length of the South Island. MitoQ joined up with racer Ryan Kiesanowski to support him with his recovery and performance.

image of contestants in the Coast to Coast multisport race in New Zealand in 2021

“The Longest Day” race

Also known as the One Day Race, the Coast to Coast website describes The Longest Day as a “World Multisport Championship event”. While the majority of Coast to Coast racers opt to take two days to complete the race, some choose to compete in The Longest Day – completing the entire 243km Coast to Coast distance within just one day. Ryan Kiesanowski was one of these athletes.

Why Ryan entered The Longest Day

This wasn’t Ryan’s first Coast to Coast race. In 2019, he earned fifth place. In 2020, a tree branch to the head forced Ryan to withdraw from the race before he could reach the finish line. This year, the 37-year-old was determined to not only make it to the finish line, but also the podium. Knowingly competing against athletes who train full-time, Ryan followed a rigorous training plan alongside his full-time occupation as a farmer.

“It was a bit of redemption this year, you might say. I just had to get the job done”, explains Ryan in a recent interview with Stuff, adding, “It’s pretty cool to try and be a role model for (my kids). You sacrifice so much in the training leading up to it. That's the thing that people don't see. All the time you have to go training, and you miss out on their sport or some of their stuff, and you can't go to it. It's a big sacrifice.”

Preparing for the race

Ryan took MitoQ for 18 months in the lead-up to the race and also worked with sports endurance and nutrition coach - as well as MitoQ Ambassador - Paul Cadman.

“The last few days were all about getting Ryan mentally prepared to race at the best of his ability, and building confidence”, says Paul. “Outside of his training and racing, Ryan runs the family veggie farm, is a father, and husband - so giving him adequate rest and recovery in the last few days before race day was a priority. Logistics play a massive role in a race like Coast to Coast, especially for the One Day Race. In that respect, a lot of time was spent ensuring Ryan’s race day needs were taken care of and that he had confidence that his support crew were set up for success.”

Ryan’s pre-race injury

After 18 months of hard work and preparation, Ryan came up against a significant blow. Three weeks before the race, he broke his toe. As Ryan puts it, this “threw a spanner in the works”. The question arose of whether or not Ryan would be able to compete in the race. As a result of his injury, running was removed from his training program and Ryan focused his attention on kayaking and biking.

“That gave me confidence”, says Ryan. “The focus was getting to that start line. Then roll the dice and hope to survive through that run.”

“We knew Ryan was in great shape, other than the toe”, adds Paul. “He didn’t want to waste the opportunity he had spent so long building (toward).”

A few days before the race, Ryan made the decision: he wanted to be at that start line.

Completing the race

Showing an extraordinary amount of grit, Ryan completed the race in 11 hours, 31 mins and 55 seconds - all with a broken toe. Incredibly, he crossed the finish line in third place and was met with the support of his extremely proud family.

“He showed a massive amount of mental fortitude and determination on the day, under extremely trying conditions”, comments Paul.

“I always believed a podium finish was within my reach”, concludes Ryan. “I had a solid winter and spring of training in me. So, I had the base. I just had to finish it off. Given everything, I’m pretty wrapped to be on the podium. I just gave it my best shot, and everything worked out.”

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