Richie McCaw couldn't keep his food down but powered through to finish a gruelling first day of the Coast to Coast.

Competitors took off from Kumara beach on the west coast of the South Island to perfect conditions early this morning, kicking off the 37th edition of the iconic multisport event.

With the world multisport championship race beginning tomorrow, much of the attention on day one was on the All Blacks legend.

McCaw, who is competing in the two-day tandem event with long-time friend and previous adventure racing teammate Rob Nichol, finished his first day disappointed saying he wasn't feeling his best.

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Rob Nichol and Richie McCaw at the start line. Photo / Mike Walen/Marathon Photos/Coast to Coast
Rob Nichol and Richie McCaw at the start line. Photo / Mike Walen/Marathon Photos/Coast to Coast

"It was pretty tough today to be honest," he said after crossing over at Klondyke corner. "I probably wasn't feeling my absolute best and it made it even tougher. [It's] nice to be here really."

The former All Blacks captain, who competed in the mountain run event in 2017, was thankful to have gone through unscathed after finishing the same section two years ago with several cuts and bruises – but he admits he would've liked to have been quicker.

"It went pretty well in terms of the body, [we] didn't hurt ourselves but yeah it wasn't as quick as perhaps I had in mind.

"But you know some days are like that and just glad we made it."

Nichol also seemed spent by the taxing first day, but was full of praise for his "gutsy" partner after revealing that McCaw ran into some trouble during the race.

"He couldn't hold his food down," Nichol said. "I don't know how he did it if I'm being honest – gutsy effort out there today. We pushed each other.

"I tell you what, today kept us honest. And I got full respect for those guys tomorrow that are doing the whole thing in one day because right now, I don't know that I really want to get on the bike."

Richie McCaw running behind Coast to Coast two-day tandem parnter Rob Nichol. Photo / Mike Walen/Marathon Photos/Coast to Coast
Richie McCaw running behind Coast to Coast two-day tandem parnter Rob Nichol. Photo / Mike Walen/Marathon Photos/Coast to Coast

The duo finished the day in sixth in the open men's category with a time of 6.48.54, an hour and 21 minutes behind two-day tandem leaders Cory and Calum Sutherland.

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Chris Harte of Christchurch took out the open men's mountain run – the same event McCaw finished in 11th place two years ago – while Julia Chamberlain of Darfield won the open women's.

Christchurch native Selena Metherell ended her first day well in front in the women's two day individual event with a time of 6:20:32, more than 12 minutes ahead of Hannah Lund and Connie Dick who crossed over at second and third place respectively.

Metherell, who was carrying a minor knee issue, was surprised by how well she ran.

"I just wanted to have fun. I had no idea [how well I went] ... I'm pretty happy.

"I don't think it's gonna be anything but I twisted my knee on the way down and I'm worried it's going to seize up [tomorrow] ... but it was fun."

In the men's two-day individual, Sam Bell of Rangiora will take a seven minute lead into the second day, finishing with a time of 5:26:05.

The Coast to Coast's premier competition The Longest Day begins tomorrow, where competitors tackle the same 243km course as the two-day event, but only have one day to complete it.