Kathmandu Coast to Coast set to be swarmed with Aussie team contenders
With the finish of Adventurethon Demolish in Clarence Valley, winners have been announced and are ready to join the Aussie Team heading to Kathmandu Coast to Coast. James Pretto and Kim Beckinsale (first male and female finishers in the Ultimate Demolish, Ultra Distance) have won a free entry as part of their prize pool from Adventurethon thanks to the partnership with the Kathmandu Coast to Coast team.
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast event is the world championships of multisport and takes in a 243km journey from the west coast to the East coast of New Zealand, taking on run, mountain biking and paddling across some of the most amazing terrain.
Both James and Kim claim the Coast to Coast race has been a bucket list race and are stoked to be going.
James says, “Super stoked to win an entry to coast. I’ve been trying to get there for the past 2 years but unfortunately due to injury couldn’t make it. The weekend in the Clarence Valley was perfect training for coast, and the Gorge run although super tough, was one of the most spectacular event trail runs I’ve ever done.”
Kim added, “I am so excited to have won an entry into Coast to Coast as it is the most iconic multisport event in the world and as it was already cemented in my 2018 race calendar this prize is the icing on the cake after such a great weekend of racing at the Adventurethon Demolish Grafton.”
There is a large contingent of Aussies heading to New Zealand and we are thrilled to be sending our top two athletes from Adventurethon Demolish Clarence Valley to take on the adventure. In addition to our other athletes across various Coast to Coast categories. Some of the other Aussies include Sam Stedman and Elizabeth Dornam who are currently in New Zealand scouting for the upcoming Coast to Coast adventure.
Check out a bit more about the Adventurethon Demolish and how it panned out below.
Adventurethon Demolish included 3 races over two days, with the Ultimate Demolish Ultra distance competitors covering 45km mountain bike, 18km adventure run and 20km paddle. Each event was a race in its’ own right, with competitors battling it out over the 2 days to discover who would finish first over all.
This event was the first of its kind for Adventurethon, and competitors absolutely loved it – from the exciting new terrain to the challenge of new destinations and atmosphere. People really felt they were on a journey of discovery.
Forest Flow – Mountain Bike Stage
This flowy mountain bike course contained less hilly sections than the common Adventurethon courses, but these were replaced by fast, winding trails which enabled you to make good time around the course and where the ability to corner tightly and accelerate out hard was certainly an advantage. A benefit for front runners was the winding nature of the trail, which enabled you to get out of sight of other competitors and gain a psychological edge. Even if only a few seconds, it can sometimes be the difference between catching someone or getting even further ahead.
The leaders belted out with James Pretto, Dan McLachlan and Sam Stedman sitting nose to tail for much of the first lap. Leela Hancox set out with the men in the front. As a top 14 in the world for off-road triathlon, it was no surprise that she put in a cracking pace. She held on as long as she could and didn’t lose sight of them until they crossed the first feeding station. With Leela in the lead over her closest female competitor by 2:11, she felt confident she could retain the lead. But with 2 more races to go, would she hang on to take the overall win.
Kim Beckinsale certainly wouldn’t be making that easy and she continued to push her way all the way to the finish line, always mindful of the time gap that would be getting carried in to the Ultimate Demolish over the next two stages.
By the end of Lap 2, James Pretto had lengthened his lead to 56 seconds. In a game where every second counts, and any hiccup could change the outcome, James continued to push hard. As a regular competitor at Adventurethon, James has never finished first…and this stint at the front is just what he needed to get going, and he was holding tight to his lead.
Ali McLachlan was not far behind the other women, and at the end of lap 1, was only 2 mins behind Kim. All it would take is a mechanical or fatigue to change the lead at any time. So we watched on with keen excitement.
By the time James crossed the finish line, he had put more time on the others finishing 1:46 ahead of Dan McLachlan and 2:15 ahead of Sam Stedman. Dan was somewhat unknown to the Adventurethon team, so we were unsure (and excited to find out) what his strengths were and where he would finish in the Ultimate Demolish. Sam’s favourite leg is the run, so we knew he would be putting up a great challenge in the run. Where would the finishers be by the end of the run stage? And would the same top 3 remain?
In the women’s field, Leela Hancox finished first and Kim finished 5:48 behind Leela in second place. Ali McLachlan came in 5 minutes after Kim making for an interesting top 3 challenge heading in to the Gorge Adventure Run.
The Gorge Adventure Run – Run Stage
Next stage was the Adventure Run, 18km set amongst some of the most spectacular countryside in NSW, with the stunning Clarence River, great boulders and rocks and waterfalls, this was a majesty of vision. As competitors arrived and set up their tents for the nights camping, everyone was blown away by how stunning the backdrop was. Many competitors took the time to have a short recovery break before their run.
With Leela dropping down to the Enduro distance run she took herself out of contention for the Ultimate Demolish standings, and this made way for 4th placed Laura Dunstan to join the medal possibilities.
We asked Leela about her run and she told us,
“I can only comment on the Short (ENDURO) course. Its’ general route was up-one side of the river, cross over at the first waterfalls and comeback the other side, cross the river again and to the finish line. It all seemed pretty straight forward enough…well, until we (being everyone on the course) all realized run, included almost 70% as un-run-able rock hoping and climbing, in which was only marked by some-one tall and with long legs.
It was certainly one of the hardest runs I’ve done in a long time and credit to Joel and the team, it had everything you could want from a challenging trail run. Would I do it again… hell yes! because although it was hard, it was super great. Hurt!!! so good! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and was perfect training conditions..” Leela Hancox
As competitors set out on their run, the lead changed many times. James Pretto, Sam Stedman and Dan McLachlan all set out with a great pace. The front runners were never entirely sure if they were in front or behind others of the top 4. Dan McLachlan and Guy Andrews took one crossing of the river, whilst Sam Stedman and James Pretto took a different one. And when they all ended up back on the running section, they didn’t know who was in front.
Guy actually commented to race director Joel Savage, that he thought the others were in front of him as he ran past. But soon after Sam Stedman and James Pretto ran past the same checkpoint and so the lead had changed again.
As the run continued Guy was in the lead for much of the run, and only a different path selection towards the end enabling James, Sam and Dan to edge ahead.
Aimee Defries was belting through the run leg, finishing first in the women’s field and in very close time to the top male finishers.
Sam was now in the lead and heading back towards the finish line, when James bolted past him and pushed right until the finish line, again mindful of keeping a time lead going into the Ultimate Demolish rankings. James finished 55 seconds in front of Sam, and 2:43 in front of 3rd placed Dan McLachlan. Guy Andrews finished in 4th spot, still holding on to the possibility of a podium as his paddle leg would be his best.
Kim Beckinsale absolutely loved the run and was totally suited to her adventure racing style and experience. She finished second in the women’s field, 13:20 after Aimee. As Aimee was only doing the run, it didn’t impact her times for the Ultimate Demolish and Kim maintained her lead for 1st.
Ali McLachlan came in 10 mins after Kim and Laura Dunstan finished 26 mins after Ali. With the paddle stage to come next, and after a nights rest, we were keen to see how that would impact competitors and who would make up more time.
Clarence River Rush – Paddle Stage
As the morning broke, competitors headed back down from the Gorge towards the lower part of the Clarence River for their paddle. The initial plan was to start paddlers under the bridge, but with quite a bit of rain over the previous week, the river was quite a bit higher and required a different starting spot.
When paddlers headed out on their paddle they had two options around a small “island” in the middle of the river. The more skilled paddlers taking the left option with faster flowing, more challenging rapid and the right hand side slightly more “beginner friendly”. Some still found the rapid a challenge and soon the field was quite split up.
Over the course of the 20km river paddle they would face other small rapids and some of the most stunning backdrops around. Guy Andrews hit the lead, with his obvious Ironman and paddling background a clear advantage.
Cathryn O’Donnell (in the masters category) hit the lead and was very impressive in the women’s field. Kim Beckinsale went out easy with a plan to hit it home hard at the end. She and Ali McLachlan were not far apart from each other and with Ali being in a plastic Fury boat, we are wondering how much faster she would have been if she had been in one of the faster skis or kayaks in a composite material.
The first paddler across the finish line was Guy Andrews, 3 minutes ahead of Lachlan Bakewell. Lachlan and James Pretto were pushing each other along mentally, with both crossing the finish line 2 seconds apart. Sam Stedman was almost 8 mins after Guy and we were keen to see where this would leave overall rankings in the Ultimate Demolish.
James told us, “I think the new format of three separate races was awesome, a bit of rest between each leg didn’t go astray. Well done to all other competitors for getting through the weekend and thanks again to Adventurethon and the volunteers for putting on great weekend.”
First women’s finisher was Cathryn O’Donnell, followed by Kim Beckinsale 7:51 mins later and then Ali McLachlan just under 2 mins later. Had Cathryn made enough time on her paddle to push her in to the podium for Ultimate Demolish? We were all excited to find out.
Kim enjoyed the weekend and said, “The Adventurethon Demolish provided a great opportunity for some of the skills required for Coast to Coast to be tested in race conditions…especially the challenging George Run and the Clarence River Paddle. Racing the MTB before the run meant that i was already fatigued going into it….so had to manage cramps along the way…adding to the challenge. I used a special Grafton crafted Time Machine (owned by former Adventure Racing athlete Narelle Ash) for the paddle, as she used it for her Coast to Coast assault many years ago. As we don’t have rapids in Noosa and I usually paddle a ski, completing this leg in the Demolish was a great way to test some of the skills I have been working on in race conditions. The concept of the Adventurethon Demolish provides for fast racing, over some great courses and the added rest does not make it any easier….as you can just push each leg more…now that’s racing!”
Final results after 3 races, 2 days and so many kilometers was
1st James Pretto (5:21:32)
2nd Sam Stedman (5:29:37)
3rd Guy Andrews (5:40:21)
1st Kim Beckinsale (6:28:38)
2nd Ali McLachlan (6:45:23)
3rd Laura Dunstan (7:34:51)