“The Year of the Veteran”
“The Year of the Veteran”
Since 1983 the Speight’s Coast to Coast has led the way in adventure sports. This year the world’s longest running multisport event celebrates its 29th edition by celebrating the veteran multisporter.
Robin Judkins is excited. The Speight’s Coast to Coast race director can’t wait for 2011’s 29th anniversary event. Judkins fervour for his 243k cycle, mountain bike and kayak race across the South Island is legendary, but this time is different. For the first time ever Judkins will be a participant in his own event.
Scheduled for February 11 and 12, the 29th edition of the world’s premier multisport race has been dubbed, “The Year of the Veteran”.
“The concept is something of a tribute to veteran athletes,” says Judkins. “Especially those who have been participating in the Speight’s Coast to Coast for several years.”
Of course Judkins himself has been around his event longer than anyone. But in recent years he has dealt with heart problems and a broken leg and the man who has organised other people’s recreation for more than a quarter of a century decided he needed to do something for his own health and well being.
The 61 year old has, of course, done the course in various ways in the early years of organising the Speight’s Coast to Coast. He famously tested the course in just under 48 hours prior to the first race in 1983 and declared, “ If I can do it then so can anyone else.”
It’s this ethos that he wants to prove again. “In recent years my health hasn’t been great, so I just decided that I could do something for myself as well as showing people that the Speight’s Coast to Coast is achievable by anyone if they want to do some training and give themselves that challenge.”
Judkins, of course, is realistic about his fitness. He has started training with long walks around the headlands of Sumner where he lives overlooking the finish line of the race he created. He will be participating in the Two-Day Team division with the other great Speight’s Coast to Coast legend, nine-time winner Steve Gurney.
It’s a fittingly dynamic duo to mark the year of the veteran. No one has done more for the sport than Judkins and Gurney. When Judkin’s founded the Speight’s Coast to Coast he effectively launched a new sport that has now spawned worldwide. Gurney won the Speight’s Coast to Coast nine times, but actually participated an incredible 18 times between 1986 and 2004.
On race weekend Judkins will complete the 32k mountain run over Goat Pass on Day One and the final 70k cycle to Sumner on Day Two. Gurney will complete the opening 3k run and 58k cycle section on Day One and the 15k cycle and 67k kayak section on Day Two.
Judkins is confident he can combine the stresses of both organising and participating in New Zealand’s best known endurance event, saying, “We have a very good organisational team that I can leave in charge on the day.”
“Of course if anything major happened during the event I can withdraw and be helicoptered out to make decisions. But I really am hoping to complete the event.”
And if he does you can guarantee that regardless of who takes line honours at this year’s Speight’s Coast to Coast, it will be Robin Judkins who gets the biggest cheer.