Thrills and spills on the coast to coast
In early February, three members of the MitoQ Adventure Racing Team took on the most iconic and longest-running multi-sport race in New Zealand and one of the top ones in the world, the Coast to Coast.
As the name suggests, the race traverses the 243km width of the South Island, going literally from one coast to the other. It begins on the black sands of the wild and windswept West Coast, snakes up and through the heart of the Southern Alps and ends at the picturesque New Brighton Pier on the East Coast. Athletes compete in either teams of two or individually in a mixture of disciplines.
We are delighted to congratulate MitoQ Adventure Racing Team members Paul Cadman and Emma Boyle who blitzed the field to win first place in the Two-day Tandem. Not only did they come first as a mixed tandem team, they came first overall, beating the winning all-male team by two minutes and rival, former All Black Captain, Richie Macaw and his teammate by a full 15 minutes.
We sat down with Paul Cadman to reflect on this amazing win and learn what it takes to take first place in a challenge like the Coast to Coast.
243km of riding, running and kayaking
The Coast to Coast race starts with a 2.2km sprint up the black sands of Kumara Beach and inland towards the competitors’ waiting bikes. From here it’s a 55km ride through the foothills of the Southern Alps following the Taramakau River to the base of the mountain run track. The 30.5km, mainly off-trail, run has competitors navigating rocky riverbed, plunging through the frigid waters of multiple river crossings and heading up almost 800m of elevation before beginning their descent to end day one.
The day starts off with a 15km ride to the edge of Waimakariri River for the kayak portion of the race. This involves 70km of stunning gorge and is a mix of swiftly flowing calm stretches and grade two rapids. This takes competitors to the heart of the Southern Alps and where they will ride another 70km through the Canterbury Plains to the finish on New Brighton Pier.
Most competitors will do this race over the two days with a select group of elite athletes doing the full course in just one day. The One Day race was introduced in 1989 and has the title of the World Multisport Championship.
Training for the Coast to Coast presented a couple of challenges for MitoQ tandem racers Paul Cadman and Emma Boyle. The first being that the two don’t live anywhere near each other. One of the key rules of the race is that teammates must always be within 50 metres of each other. From Cadman’s coaching perspective, because they wouldn’t be training together, they would have to achieve similar levels of fitness and ability so that they could simply keep up with each other. So he broke the sections down and they discussed their biggest hurdles and what success would look like.
Both racers ride competitively and often so this was going to be their biggest strength. The mountain run presented a lot of obstacles as it was technically difficult, with river passes and the need to navigate jumping boulder to boulder. But the biggest challenge was the kayak as neither Cadman nor Boyle have extensive paddling experience.
In fact, Cadman states that one of the key things in the lead up to a race is to manufacture conditions as close as you can to the race so that you can experience the reality of it. Finding a river with rapids, bluffs and hazards is tough. Emma lives in Nelson, an area of New Zealand where there are these sorts of rivers, but an extra hot summer had left most of them too dry to practice on. The added complexity of the weather in these areas is what sets the race apart from any other in the world but also adds to the challenge of training. On one trip down to practice together, they couldn’t even get out onto the course.
MitoQ and training
As part of their training regime, both athletes were taking a regular dose of MitoQ and Cadman notes that our world-first antioxidant was a key component of his recovery. “MitoQ allows me to recover faster therefore I can train one day and then happily get up and train the next day.”
He says he also sees some benefit in “loading”, and three days prior to the race they increased their dosage of MitoQ. He couldn’t say for certain that it works but he reflects on the fact that both he and Boyle still had a lot of power in the tank coming into the last ride of the event. And this was where they made up a lot of time to eventually win first place.
“We never actually sat down and said we wanted to win, I’m sure we both thought it but hadn’t said it,” Cadman says of their attitude going into the race. Instead he says their main goal for the race was to get through the paddle without falling out as this could lose them a lot of time. The river was high, there was a strong current and they quickly lost sight of the competitors around them. For the four and a half hour paddle, they just had to go as hard as they could and hope they were keeping up.
“I wanted to enjoy it, yes, but also I wanted to win,” says Cadman.
Getting out of the water, the duo got an update from the support crew that they were the first mixed team to complete the kayak but that there were a couple of men’s teams ahead of them. Then they got on the bike, put their heads down, caught up to a few teams, powered past and just kept going. Next thing they looked up and had caught up to the lead male team, then rode past them as well. They crossed the line victorious and over two minutes ahead of the next team.
Top 5: Two Day Coast to Coast – Tandem Teams
- Emma Boyle and Paul Cadman, ‘Athletes Powered By MitoQ’ – 12:27:58 – Mixed
- Josh Harris and David Slater – 12:30:59 – Male
- Robert Nichol and Richie McCaw – 12:42:35 – Male
- Asley Christie and Josh Payne – 12:46:44 – Male
- James Mountier and Nicki McFadzien – 12:47:02 - Mixed
The third person from the MitoQ Adventure Racing Team to compete, Ryan Kiesanowski, competed in Coast to Coast’s elite individual one day event – known as ‘Longest Day’.
Kiesanowski is a seasoned multisport athlete with this Coast to Coast being his 13th time at the event. He was looking in good shape coming into the race, feeling well prepared with some great training behind him. Amazingly he balanced his training around his seven day a week job as a farmer, an already physically demanding and exhausting undertaking. He went into the race seeded third of the group, a pretty impressive feat considering those seeded above him are full time athletes.
Leading up to the race, Kiesanowski was producing some impressive performances in training and kept hitting milestones, interestingly, this was the first year he trained while supplementing with MitoQ.
Kiesanowski dominated the first two stages of the event, breaking course records for both his first run and first bike ride. He was charging and feeling strong heading out onto the mountain run, keeping up with the front bunch of runners. Unfortunately, 30 minutes in, he ran straight into a low hanging tree branch and knocked himself out completely. After speaking with the nearest medics and his wife, he made the difficult decision to pull out of the race.
Reflecting on the race afterwards, Kiesanowski says the positives for him are that he came off the first ride feeling comfortable and was looking towards a good race. Thankfully he has suffered no lasting injuries and is keen to get back out to his next event soon.
How to be successful in an endurance race
Paul Cadman, who, in addition to being a successful athlete, is also an Ironman Certified Coach, sports manager and nutritionist, recommends that before taking on an endurance challenge, you ask yourself what you are doing it for – are you there to win or are you there to have fun and get through the race? “Align your approach and training to your why.”
Next he recommends that you tailor your training to reflect what you want your outcome to be. But remember, unless you’re a sadist, you’re only going to enjoy it if you’re fit enough to get through it, so get those training milestones ticked off.
Also, be prepared to spend some coin. These races aren’t cheap, and the gear required isn’t either. Invest in some good quality safety gear as it may well save your life.
Cadman’s top tips for training for an event like the Coast to Coast:
- Start training and be consistent, don’t just train on the weekends.
- Nutrition is important, eat good quality whole foods. Give your body what it needs to go out and do it.
- For a challenge like this you’ll need to be comfortable with your surroundings, so get out into the wilderness in all elements.
- Make it easier and do your strength work so your body can support the load. You’ll need to be quite strong to get through in good shape.
- Recovery is important, make it part of your training schedule.
- You can only control your own race so set realistic expectations for yourself, so you don’t get performance anxiety.
- Be familiar with the track, do some dry runs first. (The MitoQ Adventure Racing Team went down to the Coast to Coast track a couple of times to try it out).
- Have some fun with it, if you aren’t enjoying it, change something!
“The Coast to Coast is good fun, in an amazing part of the world,” concludes Cadman. “You are up against the environment and terrain but as long as you respect the race you will get through.”
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