Mahe Drysdale completes Coast to Coast

TONY SMITH
Last updated 20:57 09/02/2013

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There was no gold medal this time but completing the Coast to Coast was "very satisfying'' for Olympic rowing champion Mahe Drysdale.

The London single sculls ace bore a big grin in the Sumner Beach finishing chute tonight as he received a congratulations kiss from partner Juliette Haigh, an Olympic rowing bronze medallist.

"That was very tough,'' said Drysdale _ one of the biggest men to do the Longest Day race at 2m and 108kg _ 10kg heavier than his Olympic rowing trim.

He acknowledged it was the "toughest thing I've ever done''. "This was completely out of my comfort zone .. to actually complete it is very, very satisfying. I didn't know if I was going to get through it.

"Basically, it's a 14-hour training session, I've never put my body through anything like that before.''

But Drysdale, who is enjoying a six-month sabbatical from rowing, said he "really enjoyed'' his first multisport experience.

"I'd like to come back and do it again... but I might have to wait until after the next Olympics [in 2016].''

The 34-year-old rocked up to the Kumara Beach start line just four minutes before race director Robin Judkins sounded the hooter at 6am.

He was understandably apprehensive about whether he'd last the 243km-distance but coped well on the two cycle stages _ from Kumara to Aickens on the West Coast and the final 70km across the Canterbury Plains.

The water sports whizz reckoned he struggled in a different kind of craft _ a kayak.

He had "a bit of tendinitis'' in his forearm but "just had no more gas in the tank'' on the Waimakariri River.

Drysdale, who had Haigh as support at every transition stage, had expected to struggle on the 33km mountain run over Goat Pass to Klondyke Corner but he reckoned the run went well, particularly on the downhill stretch.

He will be back in a sculling boat in May to prepare for a world championship trial in July.

But there was another form of sculling last night- a can of race sponsor Speight's product as Drysdale, still slathered in sun block, proudly reflected on his trans-Alpine odyssey and waited for London double sculls gold medallist Joseph Sullivan to finish his own Longest Day.

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