Time for coasting

Golf on hold: Jo Hicks-Beach

Running, biking and kayaking the 243km width of the South Island mightn’t sound like fun, but two Queenstowners are among many locals relishing the challenge.

Jo Hicks-Beach and Giulio Chapman-Olla are both tackling the two-day version of the legendary Coast to Coast multisport event for the first time, starting tomorrow at Kumara Beach on the West Coast, then finishing on Saturday at New Brighton Beach, in Christchurch.

Formerly Otago’s best women’s golfer, Hicks-Beach, 35, admits “golf was my life and it’s been my life since I was about 12 years old [in England]”.

However she’s put competitive golf on the back-burner as she’s trained for Coast to Coast.

After training for, but not competing in the Thriller in the Chiller in 2015, then running that year’s Queenstown half marathon, “I just got to a new level of fitness that I had never really had before”.

She then graduated to the Motatapu marathon and the Kepler Challenge ultra-run, while also getting into kayaking and road biking.

Multisport’s harder than golf but still fun, she maintains, despite training five days a week.

“I love pushing your body to its limits.

“I’ve definitely got something like GODzone [adventure race] in my sights.”

However Hicks-Beach says she still enjoys going to the Kelvin Heights golf course for a hit and will “definitely” return to competitive golf some day.

For Chapman-Olla, who has a running/cycling background from training for three Challenge Wanakas, his challenge has been learning to kayak.

“On the bike you can just go slower, on the run you can walk, but you can’t escape the [70km] kayak, so when you’re going through those grade two rapids you can’t just get off.”

The 38-year-old started kayaking before last winter and has enjoyed paddling regularly with local groups – “the people have been amazing to be involved with”.

He says his aim’s just to finish on Saturday “without pulling a calf muscle”.

Also contesting the two-day event will be Queens-towner Simon Brackstone, marking his 60th birthday in March, along with his son Linden, 26.

It’s Simon’s second go at the event, after finishing 125th in 2005, in 15hr 52min 14sec.

At least a dozen other locals will line up, including endurance warriors Kat Bulk, Ollie Behrent and Alex Martin.