And finally…Reason #2 why I’m headed back to New Zealand after 20 years: for a triathlon.
Not to run. To observe. To take notes. The next novel I’m planning is set in New Zealand, and this triathlon plays a major role. Because this is no ordinary triathlon. This is the Coast to Coast.
This race spans the skinniest part of the South Island, Kumara to Christchurch–243 kilometers (about 180 miles) of running, biking, and–no, not swimming–whitewater kayaking. Here’s the course:
Oh, did I forget to mention it crosses a mountain pass?
Thanks to Kiwi friends, I’ve been invited to “pit crew” for a woman who’s doing the triathlon. I’m going to grab her bike or hold her wetsuit or whatever she needs, all while soaking up the sights and sounds and scents and trying not to make a pest of myself.
For years, the race was sponsored by a beer company. Now its sponsor is Kathmandu, an outdoor gear company that seems much better suited. But notice how little else I know about the Coast to Coast! I’m excited to learn how much more I have to learn.
Also thrilled that I don’t have to run/ride/paddle the damn thing myself. The elites take about 13 hours to finish. The woman whose crew I’m joining expects to take 15-16 hours.
Funny story: when I first chatted with “my” triathlete, she asked, “So, this American athlete and her coach…will they be joining you as well?”
It took me a moment to process this. Then: “Oh, no! They’re fictional. I mean, they’re what the book’s going to be about. So, no, they won’t be coming with me.”
Except they will, of course. In my head. Assessing their fictional future.
So if you’re reading this–cheers! The next time you’ll hear from me will be in mid-February, when our Great Kiwi Re-adventure is behind us. Till then, keep reading and writing and running or whatever it is you do. Hug your family. Talk with a stranger. Be well.