50 not out and Coombes goes Coastal again

18:19, Feb 07 2013
 Kevin Coombes
BIRTHDAY PROMISE: Kevin Coombes, of Inglewood, is tackling the Coast to Coast multisport race tomorrow.

Inglewood's Kevin Coombes always said that when he turned 50 he would tackle the Coast to Coast one-day race again.

He's kept his promise.

Coombes, who turned 50 last July, will be on the start line at Kumara Beach tomorrow morning for the 243km race across the South Island.

"I always said I'd do it and here I am," he said from Greymouth yesterday. "I've done it twice as an individual, in 2004 and 2005, and a couple of times with my sons . . . Daniel in 2007 and Nathan in 2011. It sounds stupid but I think I'm keen."

Coombes said he was feeling good.

"I've had a bit of a sore knee and that's slowed me down a little. My kayaking and cycling has been going well. I've done enough training."


Coombes, who will compete in the men's 50-to-59 division, said his goal was to finish inside 14 hours.

"Last time, I took 14hr 55min. I'm aiming for 13hr 59min this time. I'm a bit older and wiser now and as long as I can get through the mountain run, Ill be okay."

The race starts at Kumara at 6am with a 3km run. Competitors have a 55km bike ride before tackling the 34km mountain run. A 15km bike ride is next, followed by 67km of white water kayaking before then final bike ride - a 70km cycle to the finish line at Christchurch's Sumner Beach.

"It's going to be a long day for sure, but never mind. I just want to be in Christchurch between 8 and 9 at night."

New Plymouth's Hamish Fleming is back for a second crack at the race.

In 2011, he finished 10th in the open men's two-day individual event in 13hr 4min 13sec. Tomorrow, he will compete in the open men's one-day individual race.

New Plymouth's Scott Anderson is tackling the event with his 17-year-old son Jack.

"We're in the two-day event. We start Friday morning at 7. I'm doing all the sitting down stuff, the bike and the kayak. I've got a big stable boat this year and I'll just chug down the river," Anderson said. "Jack's doing the hard bit, the mountain run. That's really tough going."

And he should know. He tackled the event as an individual in 2002.

"I finished, I made the cutoff, which surprises me now. I don't think I knew back then just how hard it was going to be," he said.

"This time, I thought we could do it as a team. Jack's in the Hillary Challenge team at Boys' High and I thought this would be good training for him."

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