Along with strength and tenacity, focus and determination are major ingredients for anyone who takes on the challenging Coast to Coast race which sees competitors cycle, run and kayak from Kumara Beach on the West Coast of the South Island to New Brighton near Christchurch on the east coast.

And eight young Napier competitors have all those attributes in spades.

"Oh yes, this will be the pinnacle for them," coach and Taradale High School physical education teacher Pauline Edwards said.

"They all do adventure and multi-sports races regularly so they are all fit - but this is a real step up for them because this event is huge."


It was back in October last year that the idea to put in a team from the school into the event for the first time was sparked.

Eight 16 and 17-year-old students - five boys and three girls - were approached on the basis of their sporting abilities, and all agreed to give it a shot.

They will compete in the two-day tandem event - splitting into four two-person teams.

The tandem teams are Zayne Jennings and Matt Durrant, Abby Macredie and Kaya Shlomi, Mikayla Mead and Klayten Betts, and Dylan Sherwood and Tom Webb.

The event is split into four stages over the two days of February 12 and 13.

The first stage is a 3km run and a 55km cycle. Stage two is a 33km run. Stage three is a 15km cycle and 67km of kayaking the Waimakariri River and the fourth stage is a 70km cycle ride to the finish.

The young athletes took part in a 24-hour adventure race in Whangamata last year but as Ms Edwards said, the much-vaunted Coast to Coast was "a huge step up".

"But they are young and they are fit - it's only the cycling we still have a bit to do on."

Since embarking on the training schedule the eight young athletes have been doing a full day a week training at a nearby river, two sessions a week in kayaks at Pandora Pond, going on three 20km to 30km runs a week and hitting the cycling tracks also three days a week.

"Most kids take it easy during the school holidays - they are the opposite," Ms Edwards said.

"But I've made it clear to them all that they have to be self-driven, and they are."

For head boy 17-year-old Zayne Jennings, taking part in the iconic Coast to Coast is something of a dream come early.

"I've had a few people speak to me about it before but I always thought it was out of my reach at my age," he said.

But the introduction of tandem teams allowing younger people to take part changed all that.

"So it feels pretty good to be able to do it."

He said he and his race-mates all had nerves because the terrain was an unknown quantity.

"But we're fit - training has taken over our holidays but it's what we love."

All had set out on the sports event trail when they started in Year 9 at Taradale High School and Zayne said there was a friendly rivalry sparking up between the four school teams.

"Oh yes, definitely there is. But our first goal is to just finish the Coast to Coast - to be able to say we did it."

He preferred the running because it had long been his sporting focus. The kayaking and cycling were "a struggle" at first but he said it was "all coming good now".

Taking part comes with more than just the cost of testing one's sporting endurance - it also comes with a financial cost.

"It's $1000 each to enter and all up it's likely to come in at about $2000 for each kid - so it's a huge commitment," Ms Edwards said.

Parents had stepped in, as had members of the public and private sponsors such as Led Lenser and Rothbury Insurance for some of the gear needed.

"The community has really helped us here."

There is also a huge emphasis on each team's two-person support crew to ensure all safety and other details are thoroughly covered.

"There is an entire book for us to read through ... you have to have everything absolutely right."

Underlining the focus of the team is best summed up by Zayne, who said he had been unable to make a kayak session yesterday because he was away on holiday.

"We've been to Taupo, Raglan and Whangamata - but I've still been training hard-out every day."