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It turned out to be the start of quite a journey.
The Cromwell athlete was in awe when he realised the competitors next to him — from all walks of life, and of all shapes and sizes — merely had the same goal: to finish.
"I wondered, what the hell am I doing here?"
Lines said he had enjoyed the journey to get to the start line but his head was cluttered when he lined up on the beach at Kumara.
Despite dealing with self-doubt, he went on to avoid the cut-off points around the course to finish in 21hr 4min 38sec.
Since that day, Lines has maintained a weight in the 90kg range, and fought back from life-threatening blood clots.
He first became inspired to have a crack at the Coast to Coast when acting as a member of the support crew in 2017 for family friend Nicole Irvine.
"I probably have to say I wasn’t the best crew member," Lines said.
"I was off getting an ice-cream when she come in at the finish of the kayak stage. So I actually missed that whole transition.
"I’m sure she’s looking back still and wanting payback at some stage."
Lines later made contact with Wanaka guru Matty Graham to seek advice on how to go about competing himself.
It proved to be a life-changing meeting for Lines. Graham acts as a mentor — and gives him the kick in the pants when the need arises.
He is not a huge fan of the running stage of the event but his confidence lifts when he reaches the kayaking and cycling sections.
After injury forced him to withdraw in 2019, he completed the two-day race for a second time in 2020, reducing his time considerably when clocking 14hr 49min 33sec.
That was despite disruptions to the west side of the course due to safety concerns brought about with higher-than-normal river levels.
This year will mark Lines’ fifth consecutive time in the great multisport race.
"I’ve had two fails and two completes," he said, referring to the 2019 injury and another that foiled his first crack at the Longest Day last year.
Lines was one of the first to lodge his entry for this year’s event and another attempt at the Longest Day.
"I’m there to complete, not necessarily to compete.
"I actually prefer the two-day race but I’m there to compete against myself. And for the Longest Day race, it’s to have the distinction of having completed it and cross it off a list of achievements."
Lines said one of the best things about the race was that people had put notes of encouragement on rocks to spur the athletes along.
"You see that and you think, ‘this is so cool’. It really lifts you and spurs you on.
"The support from fellow competitors and those on the course is just huge. You quickly become aware of just how special this event is to New Zealand."
Lines is confident he has the ability to complete the Longest Day, something that might have seemed a fantasy when he was dealing with blood clots and other battles.
"It’s not so long ago that I was on my deathbed.
"I’d done some silly things — got overweight, and hadn’t thought about my health so much.
"Now, through lifestyle changes, diet and movement, I’m able to do more, and want to do more.
"Everyone has challenges in life. I now call it resilience training. We need to fail in order to learn.
"As an athlete, you’re going to have bad days. But it’s just part of the journey."
- Wayne Parsons
Best time: 14hr 49min 33sec.
Entry 2022: Longest Day.
Support crew: Son Boston, Brett Watson (Cromwell), Kellen Stewart (Christchurch).