Whanganui multisport adventurers Ashley Christie and Josh Payne have learnt what rugby stars the world over have known for 20 years - All Blacks legend Richie McCaw is a tenacious competitor.
At the weekend the two mates, who go by the team name of Pecka Heads, entered the iconic Kathmandu Coast to Coast, which they do every second year, having been the 2018 open and men's champions in the two-day tandem racing.
A recent addition to the 37-year-old event, which traverses some 243km from the South Island's West Coast to Christchurch, the tandem racing division involves both team members doing the cycling legs, mountain run and kayaking down the Waimakariri River together – rather than the traditional format of each team member tagging in-and-out for specific legs.
The team mates must stay within 50m of each other at all times, and Christie said he and Payne were pretty much stuck together for the duration of the event, which had some tough weather challenges they didn't experience in 2018.
This year, Pecka Heads would have to settle for third place in the open and men's divisions, and fourth overall, with the winning team in their division being Josh & Dave Show (Josh Harris, David Slater), who finished in 12h 30m 59s.
However, the true battle was Christie and Payne trying to outlast McCaw and team mate Robert Nicol, aka Best Foot Forward, who ultimately beat them to the finishline at New Brighton by just over four minutes.
The leading nine teams in the tandem races all finished in under 13 hours, which smashed Pecka Heads winning time in 2018 of 14h 6m 50s.
The course, which all competitors from individuals to teams will attempt in either they one-day or two-day format, involves a 2.2km run from Kumara Beach to reach the bikes, and then speed 55km along West Coast highway to the entry point to Goat Pass.
After perfect weather in 2018, adverse weather conditions this year saw the rivers swell to very high levels in very cold conditions.
Christie said today that the running route had to change, using the alternative road racing up Arthurs Pass to the Otira viaduct, before taking a single track down to the traditional overnight stop at Klondyke Corner.
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It was here the Whanganui pair battled with McCaw and Nicol, who were in their second Coast to Coast as a tandem.
"On the first day, they passed us maybe 1km into the mountain run," Christie said.
"We passed them back going up the hill, maybe 14km or so into it."
Conditions on the Saturday were horrible, as Pecka Heads had to deal with dust on the Waimakariri for their 67km kayak down river from the gorge bridge, after a 15km bike ride to get there, before getting back on the bikes for the final 70km flat ride to New Brighton.
"The wind got up right at the end of the paddle," said Christie.
With it came rain and freezing temperatures, ultimately taking Pecka Heads just over 2h 12m to complete, while Best Foot Forward were four minutes quicker to get runnerup in their divisions, although there was no catching Josh & Dave Show, who had built up a comfortable lead.
Rather than waiting until 2022, Christie said he and Payne have decided enter next year as well, as they have some "unfinished business".
Christie's father-in-law and veteran Whanganui multisport competitor Bruce Baldwin entered his sixth Coast to Coast, having been a regular in the 1990's, before coming back in 2014 as a one-day individual but ending up with a DNF.
This time, Baldwin made it all the way through as a two-day individual competitor, finishing the course in 16h 12m 19s.