Ward celebrates 30 Coast races

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 11/02/2013

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Having completed 30 races, Nelson councillor Mike Ward has finished more Coast-to-Coast multisport events than anyone, so he can see why other competitors line up behind him like sheep, assuming he knows the way.

The 70-year old Nelson city councillor completed the inaugural Speight's Coast to Coast in 1983. Since then, Ward has competed across the 234km distance 16 times in the one-day event, before he was "disqualified", and 13 times in the two-day event. For the first time this weekend, he opted to team up.

Mr Ward and 64-year-old John Sweney, of Twizel, ran, cycled and kayaked from the West Coast's Kumara Beach across the South Island to Christchurch's Sumner Beach in 22hrs 35min 13sec. They finished second overall in the vintage class (60+).

While Mr Ward said he had a sense of achievement, the "cushier" teams event was a "bit of a comedown" after all those years of individual effort.

Come the 32nd edition next year, Mr Ward said there was a pretty good chance you would see him riding his unique recumbent bicycle along the Sumner coast to end a record 30 individual events.

Mr Ward's recognisable recliner bike makes him a standout in the race, but he said it had other advantages.

"It's not the fastest thing on the planet, but at least it is comfortable," Mr Ward said.

"So if you can't go quickly, you can at least be comfortable, and it looks good as well."

Mr Ward wants to attempt another individual race and is looking for a training partner.

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- The Nelson Mail

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