Olympians in awe of Coast to Coast rivals

16:00, Feb 10 2013
Coast to Coast 2013
Competitors take in the view before the multisport event starts.
Coast to Coast 2013
A competitor pushes through the first cycle leg.
Coast to Coast 2013
Fleur Pawsey, of Christchurch, on the first cycle leg.
Coast to Coast 2013
Josh Harris, of Christchurch, at the start of the mountain run.
Coast to Coast 2013
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye at the start of the first cycle leg.
Coast to Coast 2013
Nikita Watkins, of Whakatane, at the start of the mountain run.
Coast to Coast 2013
Nick Hirshfield, of Hanmer Springs, on the mountain run.
Coast to Coast 2013
Competitors run to the start of the first cycle leg.
Coast to Coast 2013
Coast to Coast owner Robin Judkins starts the two-day event on Kumara Beach.
Coast to Coast 2013
Tony Simmers, of England, at Goat Pass.
Coast to Coast 2013
Competitors taking part in the 2013 Coast to Coast.
Coast to Coast 2013
Josh Harris of New Zealand competes in the individual two day event of the 2013 Coast to Coast.
Coast to Coast 2013
Mike Snell of Australia competes in the individual two day team event.
Coast to Coast 2013
Athletes compete in the individual two day event.
Coast to Coast 2013
Genevieve Stark of New Zealand competes in the run.
Coast to Coast 2013
Daniel Busch, a member of the first team competing in the two-day event to cross the line.
Coast to Coast 2013
Robin Judkins with Seamus Meikle, an entrant in the individual two-day event.
Coast to Coast 2013
Robin Judkins and Mitch Munro, a competitor in the individual two-day event.
Coast to Coast 2013
Aaron Mallett, a competitor in the individual two-day event.
Braden Currie
Braden Currie has won the 2013 Coast to Coast.
Coast to Coast
Olympic Medalist in Rowing, Mahe Drysdale crosses the line in the individual One day race. Pictured with Robin Judkins.

Two Olympic Games gold medallists now have "a massive respect" for committed Coast to Coast athletes after rating the trans-alpine race as the toughest sporting event of their lives.

Five-time world champion and London Olympics single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale and London double sculls victor Joseph Sullivan were shattered but "satisfied" after staggering across the finish-line at Sumner Beach on Saturday night at the end of the Longest Day.

"It was awesome but it was just mental, the whole thing," Sullivan said. "Not so much the instant pain but the constant pain.

mahe
DONE: Mahe Drysdale on completion of the 2013 Coast to Coast.

"There were just times when you really wanted to stop but you had to keep going and get into that zone. I have a massive respect for the guys who do this every year."

Drysdale bore a big grin in the Sumner Beach finishing chute last night 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 in the Longest Day race at two metres and 108 kilograms - 10kg heavier than his Olympic rowing trim. "This was completely out of my comfort zone . . . to actually complete it is very, very satisfying.

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"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."

The 34-year-old rower 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 would 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 watersports 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. He had expected to struggle on the 33km mountain run over Goat Pass to Klondyke Corner but reckoned the run went well, particularly on the downhill stretch.

Drysdale is on a six-month rowing sabbatical but will be back in a sculling boat in May to prepare for a world championship trial in July.

However, Sullivan, 26, will be rowing for his Picton club at the national championships tomorrow week.

"They are going to hurt, too," he said. "We've got a training camp [today] but I'm going to take a couple of days off to recover."

He went "a bit hard on the bike" to Aickens and "destroyed myself"on the run. "I was hobbling into the transition, but I've learnt a bit from it."

Both gold medallists plan to tackle the Coast to Coast again but said they would probably have to wait until after the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Press