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Speight’s Coast to Coast Back and better than ever

Speight’s Coast to Coast – Back and better than ever!

The Speight’s Coast to Coast is taking place again on the 8th and 9th of February 2008. In its 26th year and with over 730 competitors registered so far, this is set to be one of the biggest races yet.

The Speight’s Coast to Coast is New Zealand’s best-known and premier multisport event. It draws competitors from around the world; all keen to take on the gruelling course across the South Island’s main divide.

The Speight’s Coast to Coast can be tackled in either the one-day or two-day competition. Entrants facing the two-day challenge leave Kumara Beach on the South Island’s West Coast on Friday 8th February at 7am. Competitors head off on a 243km journey taking them through the Waimakariri Gorge, over Arthur’s Pass, and finishing up at Sumner Beach in Christchurch on Saturday 9th February. Around 250 individual competitors will take off on Saturday morning at 6am, pushing themselves to the limit by attempting to complete this difficult course in one day.

This year, the organisers are expecting more than 100 international competitors. Entries have been received from 21 different countries including Germany, South Africa, Iceland, the West Indies and Finland, confirming that the Speight’s Coast to Coast has solidly established itself as an international affair. The race has already attracted the biggest Australian and British contingent ever, with over 30 entrants from each country.

International competitors include Nathan Facer, a pilot from Australia, who after seven years of competing solo is teaming up with his wife Katy. John Flanagan, an ex-rugby player who is now based in the USA as a mine clearance manager for the UN, will be attacking the Speight’s Coast to Coast for his first time; as will be Daniel Cowley, an aid worker from Papua New Guinea. Another international highlight is Commonwealth Games boxing champion Brian Williams from Australia, competing in the one-day event.

Aja Shanahan of Australia is following in her father’s footsteps. In 2004 he completed the race with Aja’s best friend’s father, after finding a list of goals he’d written years before, one of which was “Compete in the Speight’s Coast to Coast”.

“I am competing in the Speight’s Coast to Coast for the first time with my best friend - the same girl whose father competed with Dad. So it is the same team, but now the daughters!” says Aja, “It is my first adventure race - and definitely one of the biggest physical challenges I have faced.”

Race Director, Robin Judkins is thrilled by the huge increase in international entries,
“I’m really pleased that the Speight’s Coast to Coast now holds a permanent position on the world multisport calendar,” says Judkins. “It is the result of a 25-year campaign to publicise the Speight’s Coast to Coast worldwide and I can’t wait to welcome all of our 105 international competitors in February.”

A keen New Zealand contingent will be giving the internationals a run for their money with a record number of entries from Northland through to Invercargill. Multisporter, Anton Wesselink is making the trip from Hamilton for his 13th time, having competed every year since 1996. Anton first competed in the team event with his father and hasn’t been able to stop since.
“Some people go to Fiji and sit on the beach for their annual holiday; I prefer to push my limits at the Speight’s Coast to Coast!” says Anton. “It is such a wicked race through such a beautiful part of the country; I’ve caught the Speight’s Coast to Coast bug!”

65-year-old Green Party member and former Green Party MP, Mike Ward also joins the NZ field and having competed in every Speight’s Coast to Coast since its inception, he’s bound to know a thing or two about the race.

Limited places are still available for both the one-day and two-day competitions for ultra-keen Kiwi’s and international competitors.


Speight’s Coast to Coast entrants tell their inspirational stories

Plans are in full swing for the 2008 Speight’s Coast to Coast and there’s no-one more ready to compete than Cantabrian, Graham O’Neill.

On 5 February 2005, while finishing the final leg of the Speights Coast to Coast cycle, Graham was the victim of a hit and run accident. He suffered severe injuries, including a broken back and serious stomach injuries and as a result spent 10 days in the Intensive Care Unit at Christchurch Hospital and six weeks at the Burwood Spinal Unit.

After receiving specialist care Graham has made a full recovery and will be competing in the 2008 Speights Coast to Coast raising funds for Parafed Canterbury, an organisation that offers sport and recreational activities for people with physical disabilities.

“Recovery has been hard mentally and physically over the last two years but I feel I'm a better person for it,” says Graham. “I know competing this year will be hard physically but I am looking forward to the challenge the Speight’s Coast to Coast will give me.”

Another notable entry in the 2008 Speight’s Coast to Coast is Danielle Anderson of Auckland. In her own words, Danielle went from being “a couch potato to a multisporter in two and a half years." Weighing 97.5kgs, Danielle was diagnosed with high cholesterol when she was 25 years old. After deciding she needed to focus on creating a healthy lifestyle, Danielle set herself the ultimate goal – to compete in the 2008 Speight’s Coast to Coast. Danielle now weighs 75kgs and “is ready to take on the biggest challenge of her life.”

“I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone more times than I care to remember while training for the Speight’s Coast to Coast,” says Danielle. “It’s certainly not an easy road to take for someone who couldn’t run 500 metres, but I’m not going to give up. Entering the Speight’s Coast to Coast has awakened in me a passion for health and fitness – I’m addicted!”

The Speight’s Coast to Coast competitors will journey from Kumara Beach to Sumner on February 8th and 9th, 2008.


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