When Ashley Christie and Josh Payne previously teamed up in the two-man race of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast, each would have to tell the other afterwards how they found their specialist sections.

But last weekend there was no need to explain and breath could be saved as the Whanganui mates went side-by-side to win both the Open and Men's tandem divisions of the 2018 edition of the race from the West Coast's Kumara Beach to Christchurch's New Brighton Beach pier.

Tandem racing, a recent category brought in by the race organisers in the last couple of years, means two people do the full 243m course together – starting last Friday with a 2.2km run from the beach to their bikes, followed by a 55km cycle along West Coast highway to reach the entry point to Goat Pass and a 33km run up and over the mountains to reach the campsite at Klondyke Corner.

Saturday saw an early start to bike 15km down to the Waimakariri River for a 67km tandem kayak through rapids and rocks, before transitioning back onto the bikes for the gruelling final 100km flat run into Christchurch.


Competing every two years, Christie and Payne had finished third in their men's division in 2014 – each taking different legs under the traditional relay format, while only Christie entered in 2016 to just do the mountain run leg by itself.

Therefore, racing side-by-side for the first time and each having to do every discipline of running, biking and paddling, they completed the course in 14 hours, six minutes and 50 seconds.

"You've got to remain within 50m of each other at all times," Christie said of the rules.

A veteran now of three Coast to Coasts, he said the weather conditions were "perfect – just the usual head wind on the last bike ride".

"It's more enjoyable racing with someone else."

Obviously, the two friends have different sections where each would be the stronger competitor, so they would take turns trying to help the other along – such as drafting while on the bikes.

"Normally I'm kayaking and he's the one that's running," said Christie.

"You have your ups and downs, each way.

"You're looking to see how you think the other person is going.

"There's a bit of talking, but sometimes it's a bit of a struggle and you can't be bothered."

Across all the two person tandem teams, Christie and Payne were third amongst 56 entries, as well as winning their two divisions.

"We actually came in at the same time as another tandem, so Josh sprinted off [to the finishline]," Christie said.

"I couldn't, so he was waiting for a few seconds for me.

"Got to thank Jonty and Bryan, the support crew for the race."

They led their division all throughout Day 1, before briefly surrendering it on the morning bike ride to the Waimakariri, but were soon back in front on the 1km dash to reach the tandem kayak beside the Mt White Bridge.

Over the next five hours in the water, others would come up to them while the teams passed the Hamilton Rapids, Woodstock, and the Gorge Bridge, but Christie and Payne would make up the difference when they got back on the bikes, including the wild sprint from final transition to run down the pier to the finishline.

Known as Team 'Pecka Heads', only two mixed teams finished ahead of the Whanganui pair, while they were 34 minutes ahead of the Men's tandem runnerups the 'Bad Larry's' in Nathan Christian and Travis Ryan-Salter.

They had help from sponsor's Excel Refrigeration and Christie Contracting.