Sat, Feb 10, 2024 10:09 PM

MBC teen claims two-day Coast to Coast crown


Peter Jones

Marlborough’s McKenzie family wrote their name across the 42nd edition of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast multisport race today.

Marlborough Boys’ College student Finn McKenzie took out the overall two-day individual title, while his father, winemaker Jeremy McKenzie, combined with Nelson’s Dan Busche to claim the two-person two-day crown.

Finn headed south this week with his sights set on the newly-formed elite youth (23 and under) title after winning the schools’ section and finishing fifth overall in the two-day individual last year.

However, this time around he left all the individual racers in his wake, eclipsing his 150 rivals who started the gruelling 243km race from Kumara Beach on Friday morning. Consequently, he won the two-day individual title, the elite youth section and the schools category.

“Obviously, the goal was to go down and try to get on the podium. We are all racing to win so to tick that off was good,” said Finn.

“I knew there was some strong opposition, guys like Sam King and Campbell Gray, and they definitely made me work for it. But I managed to have a strong run yesterday and a decent paddle today and a quick bike ride home to finish it off.”

He led the field overnight, covering the first part of the journey in three hours 24 minutes 49 seconds, then maintained his edge to the finish line at New Brighton Pier, coming home in 11:39:51. Finn held off King who finished second in 11:43:19, a similar margin to that which separated them overnight.

“I had a lead of just under three minutes on the first day … then I paddled with him today and we biked together as well, so I was able to maintain that [overnight] lead to the finish,” explained Finn.

The experience gained in 2023 was used to good effect by the 17-year-old, who changed up a couple of things this time around.

“I decided to sit in on the first bike leg this year and save myself for the run, which I executed well. I also trialled some different footwear. I used carbon foot plates on the bike, rather than bike shoes which made my transitions quicker because I could use the same shoes from the start to the finish of day one. They helped me get to the lead straight away and I didn’t look back.

“The atmosphere down here was awesome, you just can’t beat the Coast to Coast, it is just such a well set-up, well-run event with so many people involved all trying to achieve the same goal.”

Finn at the start of a cycle leg.

The winning margin was more pronounced for Jeremy and Dan. In a field of 62, they came home in 11:27:28 to head off the second-placed duo by around 47 minutes.

Jeremy, an experienced Coaster-to-Coaster and Godzone competitor, and Busche, a top paddler and adventure racer, formed an unstoppable combination across all three disciplines. They also led overnight, recording 3:36:25 for the first day’s action.

For winning the new elite youth section, Finn received a trophy, a cash prize of $1500, a NZSKI 3 Peak Pass for the winter season and a $1000 Interislander voucher.

Apart from the obvious rewards, Finn felt the introduction of the elite youth title was a welcome addition this year.

“It means us younger guys, instead of going all out for the one-day race and blowing ourselves up, we can save that wee bit extra and go a bit harder in the two-dayer. I think it’s a great initiative,” he added.

So, what is next on the multi-talented teen’s agenda?

“Probably crack into some school work actually,” he suggested with a smile.

“I’ll probably just race locally for a while … the mountain bike nationals are at the end of March so I will see if I recover for that in time … I’ll just keep ticking away.”

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