Northland man Gary Young has achieved a lifelong dream of crossing the line at the Coast to Coast in the South Island last weekend.
A father of four and builder by trade, Young completed the arduous 242.7-kilometre journey in 17 hours and 52 minutes and 3 seconds, over a two-day period. It fulfils a dream Young has had since he was 11 years old, after he was inspired by Kiwi multisport legend Steve Gurney.
"For me with it being such a big lifetime goal, there was no way I was going to let that slip through my fingers," Young said.
Supported in the course transitions by his wife Angela and son Nat, Young competed the course with relative ease, up until the final leg, a 69.5km cycle to Brighton Beach on the East Coast.
"We came into that thinking there might be a tailwind for the first time in a few years but there was definitely not tailwind, it was a headwind all the way."
Leading up to the race, Young would sometimes only have one rest day in a structured plan he followed for several months to be ready for the course. While he said his cycling could have been better, Young felt he had prepared well, sometimes training for over seven hours in a day.
When asked why it had taken him so long to achieve the goal he dreamed of at such a young age, Young said his commitment to his family meant he had to put his plans on hold.
"It was really for family reasons but the race is also definitely more suited to an older brain, endurance tends to come easier with an older head."
Young's enthusiasm for endurance racing was reignited in July last year when he was introduced to fellow Coast to Coast competitor Richie Crawshaw, who completed the entire course in one day, and acted as a mentor for Young.
"[Crawshaw's] key advice was just to believe in yourself, anyone is capable of doing it but they have to believe in themselves that they can do it," Young said.
"For me it was just having faith in what I'd done and where I was going and I got through it in the end."
He said the race was a great event, but one he could not have done without the support of his wife and son who helped him transition through the stages and encouraged him to keep going.
Young said he wasn't too emotional crossing the line at Brighton Beach but admitted the biggest satisfaction came a few days later.
"To be honest coming home from work on Monday was a relief in that I didn't have it hanging over me or I didn't need to do any training."
While there were plans to enter in the race again, Young said his wife might be the next family member to have a go, or he said he would compete in tandem with his son.