In many ways James Faulkner is your average 16-year-old, but he won't be next weekend.
The Roncalli College year 12 student will be the youngest individual competitor in this year's Coast to Coast multisport event on February 8 and 9 when he lines up on the start line for the individual two-day event.
Faulkner will cycle 140 kilometres in three stages of 55km, 15km and 70km, run 36km, including a 33km mountain stage that crosses the Southern Alps, and kayak 67km of the grade two Waimakariri River and the Waimakariri Gorge.
His mum, Simone, and dad, Tom, have completed the event and James was eager to beat their times. Simone finished the best of her three Coast to Coast efforts in 15 hours and 24 minutes, while Tom managed 14 hours 47 minutes in his lone attempt.
James acted as a support person for the race when he was 10 and has been waiting for his chance to compete ever since.
"This is something I've always wanted to do and when [organiser] Robin Judkins [lowered the minimum age] I thought I'd grab the opportunity.
"It will depend on the river levels but I am hoping to beat them," James said.
For a teenager who loves his bed, James has had to get used to 5am starts ever since his training began last July.
He first time in a kayak on a river came that month, and he said, while he was an inexperienced paddler, learning the skill had been the best part of the experience so far.
Training would reach 12 to 15 hours a week, the same time he is likely to complete the race in over two days.
"It is a long time but I'm wanting to beat mum and dad's times and do the run in under five hours."
He said "most days" he had to ignore the feeling he had taken on too much of a challenge.
"I don't want it to be windy, I'd rather it rain. I'd like the river to be high but not too high that it gets cancelled."
Simone said she had always supported her son's choice to do the Coast to Coast.
"I know him and he's always been very strong," she said. "I took him through the run for the first time when he was 12 and he was fine."
James said it would be important to stay hydrated, which he did not manage to do during a race run over Mt Somers two years ago.
"I got dehydrated and it knocked me around a fair bit so I learnt my lesson.
"I don't know whether I'll be sad when I cross the line . . . I guess I'll be happy that I won't have to get up early any more."
- © Fairfax NZ News