Speight's Coast to Coast - 2012

Monday, Sep 12, 2011 at 13:39

The Landy



My training is underway for the Speight’s Coast to Coast in New Zealand set down for February 2012.

I have always been interested in two training disciplines, kayaking and power-lifting. I have competed in kayaking, mostly long distance events, including two Hawkesbury Classics, and numerous marathon events. I have used power-lifting as a model for strength training.

Work and family commitments have made it more difficult over the past couple of years, along with a hamstring injury (tore if off completely in 2008) has seen me mostly relegated to training on my C2 rower in the garage most days. In fact, I purchased the indoor rower after my hamstring operation in May 2008, and have completed close to 12,000 kilometres on it since. I try to do around 10,000/15,000 metres daily, so I have a base fitness to work from.

I have also been a hiking fan, and with the Great North Walk on our doorstep, I’ve spent many hours walking it, and completed the whole walk from Sydney to Newcastle a couple of years ago with my brother-in-law, Ray.

Fast forward to today; Ray casually mentioned that we should do the Speight’s, and whilst we had discussed previously, we had never done anything about it. We have both been looking for a new challenge, and contact was made with the event organisers to see if it was too late to enter next year’s event – they said get your entry in as soon as possible, which we have both done.

In some ways I think one of the hardest things is committing to entering, and with that out of the way we can now focus on the required training.

My ‘achilles heal’ is the running, as much as I enjoy it the body seems to reject it, but having said that I did a trail run last Saturday, and so far so good.

Monday 19 September

Training over the past week has progressed well, plenty of time on the C2 rower, and some runs in between.

And it was a weekend of training. One of the highlights was to take my new Cannondale CAAD10 for a ride. There was plenty of kayaking, although it was a very windy day out on Narrabeen Lake yesterday afternoon and in complete contrast to a great day on Saturday. And I did plenty of mindless kilometres on the C2 rower on both Saturday and Sunday... Just need to tackle some more trail running!



I might even get a 'taste' for cycling once again, my high school years were spent racing around Lake Monger Velodrome, racing around the Kings Park area, and training out in the Swan Valley, and later road racing in Brisbane.

Monday 26 September...

Another week spins closer to the start line...

The week saw plenty of rowing on the C2 to keep things ticking over, although some turmoil in financial markets kept me away from the training task on Thursday and Friday.

My training partner, and fellow competitor, hit the weekend with some vigour, taking in a run up through the Watagan Mountains area on the Central Coast north of Sydney on Saturday. And Sunday morning was spent cycling in the rain to get some valuable ‘wet’ weather riding experience in. As I mentioned to my training partner, we could end up doing the whole course in the rain so best we train in it as well. I must say it is good to be back on the bike after a long absence, and my squatting regime has assisted in leg strength, but I just need to get the cadence up to take advantage of it!

We didn’t get a chance to do any kayaking, although we will be spending more time on this over the coming month, and will be doing a white water course in a couple of weeks time. As for the week ahead; looks like a couple of road runs, some weight training, and plenty of mindless kilometres on the C2 rower to keep it ticking over. And can’t wait for daylight saving to start this weekend as it will give some more ‘daylight’ to train in after work...

Tuesday 4 October...

The weeks are starting to go past far too fast! Not quite at the ‘count-down’ stage, but I’m sure it will come around quickly.

The Sydney long weekend gave plenty of opportunity to train, and I managed to get a couple of bike rides in at 50K each, and a longer run, well for me at least, of 15 kilometres. Over the week I managed a couple of other runs peppered with plenty of rowing on the C2. Actually, we are in the middle of a C2 rowing challenge in the virtual world, so that has my commitment presently.

With daylight saving now happening I’ll start riding to and from work a couple of days a week to get some more cycling in, and the weekend ahead will see me out at Penrith White Water (Olympic site) for the the first phase of a Grade 2 certificate for moving water, a prerequisite for the Speight’s.

Wednesday 12 October

I hope the week’s start to slow down just a little as they seem to be flying past. At this rate I’ll be on the start line before I know it!

Over the past week I managed to get in a couple of runs, and plenty of rowing on the C2 Rower, but little in the way of cycling or my ‘usual’ kayaking. I did spend last weekend at Penrith White Water doing my moving water course which will lead in this weekend’s white water course.

Well what an eye opener the moving water course was! Most of my kayaking has been flat water racing, and whilst I frequently race in the K1, I was quite underprepared for the amount of time I spent in the water upside down! But it was all good fun, and had learned a lot by the end of the weekend.

Mind you the Penrith Course is rated at a vigorous Grade 3; the Speight’s requires a grade 2 rating, but in reality it is mostly moving water...not to say it can’t throw it at you, so to speak.

This week is the final week of the global C2 rowing challenge so I will be reducing the amount of time spent on the ERG in preference for the other disciplines I need to concentrate on, like cycling, and running.

Wednesday 19 October...

I said this last week, but I can’t believe how time flies by so fast. This was the final week of our C2 rowing challenge and I finished with around 600 kilometres of rowing on the Concept rower for the month, good for cross-training, as long as you have some music to do it to. With the challenge out of the way my focus will swing to the disciplines in the Speight’s Coast to Coast, with some rowing thrown in for good order.

I’m actually enjoying the running, although I am taking it easy and managed a couple of 10K runs during the week, along with a couple of ‘recovery’ runs of about 30 minutes each. And I also managed a couple of bike rides.

I completed the requirements for the Grade 2 Kayak Certificate at Penrith White Water, and must say I had a lot of fun doing it. Usually I am flat water racer, but will certainly do more of the water white, especially given I intend to compete in the Avon Descent in 2012.




The week ahead will see my training ramp up, and this will kick-off on the weekend with a bush-run of around 3 hours early Saturday, kayak in the afternoon, followed by a 3 hour cycle on Sunday morning, followed by another kayak on Sunday afternoon. My spreadsheet says I’m up (supposed) up for around 17 hours worth of exercise this week...hopefully the body is willing, and lucky I have the support of a wonderful family!

Tuesday 25 October

Last week I mentioned that I was actually enjoying the running, so I put it to the test on the weekend with a 20 kilometre bush run through the picturesque Bobbin Head area in the northern Sydney suburbs. Now I should set the scene on a couple of fronts. The track I selected is the Sphinx track which winds its way down to Cowan Creek and then follows it to Bobbin Head, before some steps back up to a fire trail; I managed two laps with plenty of puffing and panting. Now whilst I didn’t do it at a super quick pace it did provide a good training platform for the type of running I will encounter in the Speight’s. What it did highlight is the need to do some more ‘hill’ running as I found the fire trail a real slog.

After a rest and some ‘refuelling’ I managed a kayak on the lake in the afternoon. On Sunday I managed a cycle with plenty of climbs in the same area (and did the quads remind me of it on Monday morning) and another kayak in the afternoon, and thank heavens for the C2 rower, as I find it provides a great recovery work-out.

This week will be more of the same, and as a kayaking mentor mentioned to me the other day, rest is also a discipline – one I will embrace with great energy!

Wednesday 16 November

It has been a couple of weeks since the last update, and I guess it is fair to say there has been more of the same, plenty of training happening, and I was going to use the word drudgery – but perhaps it would be a wrong choice.

I have been enjoying the training for a multi-discipline challenge, some sessions more than others! I have enjoyed getting back on the bike after a long absence, and I never need too much encouragement to get out on the kayak, and the week ahead has a two-hour white water session planned at Penrith White Water. The running, well, I actually like it (in principal) but it is something I have taken slowly to ensure my body becomes accustomed to the strains, and impact that it causes on a body not normally attuned to it. And at 95 kilo’s I can give the pavement a good pounding...

I am a big fan of the power of positive thought, and frequently spend a few moments in a quiet corner each day (if I can find one – a quiet corner!) and do some positive reaffirmations on whatever needs to be ‘attended’ to. Last night as I headed up the road at the start of a 10 kilometre run I told myself that with every step I was getting stronger and running hard, and I did this as I headed up the first slight rise which starts at our front door, literally. Anyway, I settled into the run and thoughts passed to many topics, but I tried to remain in the moment, just taking in the environment around me – well as I pushed the button on the stop watch (Garmin Forerunner 110) as I arrived back at the front gate I discovered that I had taken just under 3 minutes off my best time.

Now I should qualify that when it comes to running I am coming off a fairly low base, so improvements at this stage are likely to be reasonable, but for once I actually felt I had found my stride and was putting my strong legs, the product of a few years of squatting and dead-lifting, to good use – but importantly, I started to (re) engage my mind.

Thursday 24 November

Running shoes, now there is a topic all on its own and I’m sure one could write volumes on it...

I have been using the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra trail running shoe in my training, especially when training on bush tracks. And to some extent this is a legacy from the pack hiking I often do, as I will sometimes use these depending on the terrain. More recently I have been using them for my general running training as they are the only running shoes I have, but I have been finding them very ‘clumpy’ and something akin to wearing snow shoes (I’ve never worn snow shoes – but you get the drift) so I decided to head off to the Athlete’s Foot to get a pair of runners.

My gait is neutral so I purchased a pair of Brook’s and what a difference it has made to my road running over the past week. My times have improved and recovery has been very good after each run. Mind you, I haven’t been running as much as I should...

Otherwise training continues, and I spent two hours at Penrith White Water last weekend trying to perfect a roll in the kayak, and whilst not quite there, I’m not too far off, seemingly it is something that requires plenty of practice! And there’ll be more of that this weekend down at my normal training place, Narrabeen Lake.

I think I’ve mentioned it a few times now, but I will once again, the cycling is something I have enjoyed getting back into, and I have been using the M7 Motorway cycle track has the training ride, but this weekend I suspect my bother-in-law, and fellow competitor, will have me out chasing some hills.

Wednesday 7 December

The last week and a bit required a slight change to the training routine after I fell in a creek crossing on my usual Saturday bush run. The weather in Sydney was quite wet in the days leading up to the run around the Sphinx track at Bobbin Head, and consequently slipped on a rock resulting in a small gash to the leg, and some solid bruising.

Whilst the inclination was to continue the usual routine I modified it to give it time to heal and dropped the bike ride and further running until the bruising and soreness went away. So the week was spent on the C2 rower, and weight/strength training. I finally managed a 10K run a couple of days ago, and all feels back to normal now!

And I did manage the Mud Run Challenge, at the Sydney Equestrian centre, with TomO (our 11year old), last Saturday.

Over the weeks ahead, from this Saturday in fact, I will be stepping it up in terms of running distance, and this will be done on bush tracks along the Great North Walk, an area that I walk frequently, to better in prepare for a ‘trial’ run in New Zealand mid-January, and the big event in February

Tuesday 3 January

Well it has been almost one month since the last update and it is fair to say there hasn’t been a lot of new stuff to report, such is the nature of repetitive training for this type of event. I have stepped the running up to 5 hour sessions along the Great North Walk, which provides a good combination of climbing rock steps, and bush running.

The Christmas break provided a good opportunity to get out on the water in the surf ski, and some time was spent in the surf with it to replicate ‘white water’ – all good fun.

I am about one week away from heading to Christchurch for a few days to do a couple of paddles down the Waimak River, and hopefully get in a Mountain Run (weather permitting) which will provide the opportunity to get some orientation for the February event.

Tuesday 10 January

I’ve tapered off the training over the past few days as I am heading to Christchurch, NZ this Thursday to hopefully get in two kayaks down the Waimak River, and a mountain run over the Southern Alps of New Zealand. I’m confident I’ve got the right training in, and whilst the weekend trip isn’t designed as a time-trail, but more an orientation, it will be good to performance well!

I will use my Spot tracking device this weekend and you can view my Spot tracking page at the following web-address.

The Landy - Spot Tracker

Wednesday 19 January

My training (orientation) in New Zealand was an eye opener!

Unfortunately the weather in the Alpine region where we were training near Christchurch turned bad about the day I arrived, and continued that way until I left. I was able to get the two paddles in, but we weren’t able to do the full river and we had to miss the gorge rapid section both days as the wind was gusting 100 kilometres per hour through the gorge, and the river was very high due to rain. For those familiar with river flows it went from 70 cumecs (cubic metres per second) in the gorge to about 280 on the days we were paddling, between the Friday and the Saturday.

We did the river in two stages both days, the first 15 kilometres, and the last 20 kilometres, transporting the kayaks by car in between. Where we put in on the last section is close to the end of the 25 kilometre gorge section, and the kayaks were almost blowing away when we put them on the river bank. I recall at one stage I was doing around 3 minute kilometres on this section.

And for much the same reasons we had to cancel the run as it was raining and snowing at the top of the mountain run section and the river was impossible to cross in the lower sections. In fact on Friday two separate groups were evacuated out by helicopter, but mind you they shouldn’t have even attempted the run in the conditions that were present and were suffering advanced stages of hyperthermia when rescued.... Welcome to New Zealand!

It wasn’t a total loss as I learnt a lot. For someone who grew up in North Queensland where it never snows (30 degrees everyday), it was a real pointer that Alpine regions deserve a great deal of respect. Fortunately the people I was training with have safety and risk assessment at forefront of mind.

It was good to see sections of the bike ride I will be doing, the transition for the run, and the kayaking that we did was a lot of fun, even managed to stay dry in the rapid sections that we did.

And apologies if you tried to follow on Spot tracking, I forgot to take it!!

We also had two reasonable sized earth tremors while I was there.
This week we are heading for a family holiday to Khancoban where I will (try and) do some running, and cycling in preparation for the big day!

Tuesday 31 January

Well after a week off camping with the family, and little in the way of formal training, I actually feel quite refreshed and mentally prepared for the big day, well two days actually.

I had a small set-back with some inflammation in my right ankle due to a spur caused by an old injury and aggravated by the uphill running. The sports doctor has treated it with anti-inflammatory medication and I doubt it will prove to be any great concern on the run. It might actually cause more problems in the kayak leg because of the foot positioning.

We leave for New Zealand a week from today and the event is run on Friday /Saturday the 10/11th February.

Physically I have done has much as I can, using a variety of cross-training, strength training, kayaking (not enough white water though!), cycling and bush running. Mentally I have faced challenges similar to this in the past, having walked extensively in Papua New Guinea, and Australia with large packs, and paddled the 111 kilometre Hawkesbury Classic race a couple of times over the last few years. And throw in there a walk to Newcastle from Sydney. Personally I have a strong belief that these types of events tend to be more of a mental challenge than a physical one, and that isn’t to say you shouldn’t be physically prepared either, but I’m ready!

For me this is a challenge I intend to enjoy, the great scenery on the Alpine Mounain Run over Goat's Pass, the fantastic river kayak down the Waimak, and the cycle into Christchurch to finish it off. The average for last year’s two day event was around 16.5 hours, and whilst I am aiming for around that time, I guess it will all depend on the day, the conditions, and just how well I am prepared for what this event can challenge competitors with. Either way, I’ll be counting a finish as a win, regardless of the time!

My competitor number is 460 (Barry O’Malley – Sydney) and I understand it will be possible to follow competitor’s on the Speight’s Coast to Coast website. I will be taking my Spot tracking device and a link can be found here.

The Landy - Spot Tracker


This will most likely to be the last update to the ‘training blog’ and I will update how I went, and will do a write-up of the event in time, and with that I will be taking with me a great quote, from none-other than TomO, our 11 year old son, who said to me recently - “Just embrace it” – that will be emboldened on my kayak so I can look at it all the way down the Waimak!

Cheers, Baz (The Landy)




Cheers, Baz, (The Landy)
Cheers, Baz (The Landy)
Winning is an internal game, if you fall, get back up
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