Winner grateful for persuasion

Otago multisport athlete Kath Kelly crosses a river during the 2018 Coast to Coast earlier this...
Otago multisport athlete Kath Kelly crosses a river during the 2018 Coast to Coast earlier this month. Photo: supplied
Kath Kelly needed a bit of encouragement to give the Coast to Coast another shot.

But the 45-year-old artificial inseminator from Millers Flat is glad she was talked around by a friend.

She entered the Longest Day and was the first woman in her age group to cross the finish line at New Brighton Beach last weekend.

Getting to the start line was, in some ways, the biggest challenge.

Kelly had competed in the two-day event in 2008 and 2009. She was all set to compete in the one-day event the following year but was forced to transfer her entry after suffering an Achilles injury.

She teamed up with Shaun Portegys in 2011 to win the mixed team section in the one-day event.

"Then I thought, nah, I’m not doing the Coast to Coast anymore," Kelly said.

"But last year a friend of mine did it and convinced me that, if I was going to do it, I should do it now. So I did.

"It was an awesome feeling [to win]. I just wanted to complete it and wasn’t expecting to win or anything."

Kelly said everything went pretty smoothly, although there were the inevitable flat patches.

"I can’t complain too much. I did a faster run time than I’ve ever done, so I was happy with that."

"I had a couple of hairy moments," in the kayak.

"The wind tries to tip you out ... and I took the wrong line and the nose nearly went under."

The final cycle leg to New Brighton Beach was a bit of a grind.

"I was going quite quickly around 35-38kmh and the headwind slowed me down to about 25-26kmh, so that was probably my worst patch."

Kelly made the journey from one side of the South Island to the other in 14hr 36min.

She had a spot tracker on to monitor her progress. It also allowed people to keep track of her, which was a hit with her supporters.

"They can see this little dot move and apparently I had quite a few people entertained from the local district. It was quite cool knowing that."

Getting her toes into the sand on New Brighton Beach was "an awesome feeling". But Kelly is not planning on putting her feet up for too long.

The seven-time Lake Hawea Epic winner would like to win an eighth title.

The 125km mountain bike race is in April and, while Kelly feels like she is slowing down, she is also fit and ready to go.

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