Pursuing a dream
Speights Coast to Coast 2009
In the pursuit of both following a dream and challenging myself to an extreme, I entered the Speight’s Coast to Coast 2009. My name is Jeremy Cronin (Jezz) I am 23 and about to share with you my journey and experiences as I set out on my mission to complete the longest day Speight’s Coast to Coast.
Although I disliked and struggled my way through school, my real interest and passion was for the outdoors. From a swimming background, I completed some long swims in “the deep blue” which inevitably lead me to a half ‘iron-man’ at 18. After completing that, to pursue endurance work evolved. I have always loved sport and been an active competitor and at 19 I became discovered I could add adventure and endurance racing together, the race to really push me was going to be the world multi sport Speight’s Coast to Coast Competition.
For eight months I ate, breathed, dreamed, trained, worked and thought about the Coast to Coast. I put my surfboard, skateboard, mountain bike, parties, late nights and really anything that may have hindered my training or rest days to the side. During those months prior to the race it became obvious to me that it wasn’t just about training then racing, it was a journey through which I would discover my strengths and weaknesses, both mentally and physically. I learnt that my limits can be pushed and worked at in order to further my achievements. I realized, throughout the lead up to the being in the right head-space attributes to the limits placed and the outcomes gained.
An important aspect of training was connected to the fact that I was continually evaluating and monitoring my own work ethic. Because I was training alone, day in and day out, I had to remain objective enough to ensure that when my coach had set a full intensity training I was pushing my body to that limit. But I could not stop there, I had to push past full intensity and then go that bit further still.
Time management became crucial as I squeezed University, training, working and then being sociable into 24hours a day over 7days in a week. During those vulnerable or weak moments when I was tired or lacking in motivation and energy, I had to search deep within to pick myself up. Being able to do this has helps me face day-to-day challenges in a positive and happy way.
THE DAY DAWNED
that I had trained for and learnt, the Standing on the start line at Kumara at 5.45am waiting for the starter gun to sound, apprehension, excitement and nervousness all competed within me. The gun went and off we all went, focused on the task at hand. From this we went straight into the 55km road bike.
I joined a sizable group and took off for the hills, all was going great and I was cycling well until I hit a large bump in the road and both my water bottles fell out and into the ditch. A quick
decision to stay with the group “strong cold head wind and working alone-not ready to head for the hills and although the transition was fast and slick I knew I was already lacking in hydration. An hour thirty into the run, after pounding out at a good speed, I felt my body take a turn for the worse. I became aware that the food and hydration that I was trying to put in was taking its time to provide energy. I felt I had hit a wall, my body slowed as I kept running on, trying to push through it. Three food and hydration on board.
When I hit the next 15km bike, because weariness was taking its toll I didn’t go to plan and concern over cut-off times now entered the equation. When I arrived at the next leg, the 67 km kayak down a grade two river, I was feeling ok but not great. My mental stamina was playing up and proving harder than usual to get on top of.
off I went. I was in my zone even though I had the pressure of the cut-off times constantly with me. Knowing that I needed to work hard or I would be pulled out, I pulled myself together, focused on my breathing and took my mind off the shallow river. I squashed negative thoughts and dug it in my throat tightened and my heart pounded as I carried on giving it all that I had in my tank, and more.
pull off the river you have run out of time”. My body went limp, emotions ran wild throughout my exhausted 69kg body, so many thoughts and and my own hopes all surged through me. The emotions of 14hours and 3minutes of going as hard as I possibly could go threatened to swamp me. I was the second competitor at that cut off point and I missed the cut off time by only three minutes. Three minutes. I pulled myself together and slowly hopped out of my kayak. I was informed that my support crew, who had been encouraging me and helping me at every transition along the way, were now on their way to collect me and take me from the race.
They arrived and the disappointment I felt was mirrored for me on their faces. They engulfed me and held me up. My partner and every single person in my family were there with me. We all cried and talked and
with coaches, sponsors, my mentor, previous Coast to Coast athletes, family and friends I realize that I was not as mentally prepared as I could endurance or toughness that I struggled with.
Before the race, knowing that I was the second to youngest, I thought I would be advantaged or have a physical edge on the older competitors. However they had a wiser outlook and a more experienced approach
than me. While I had thought about how to adapt when things did not that would be on the day. At each obstacle, from the loss of water bottles, to the cycling group dynamic, to the inability take in food or hydration, to the lowness of the river, to the unknown terrain, I felt small amounts of
toughness. To do this I need to compete in more races and gain experience in dealing with challenges at ‘race-pace’. I need to spend more time in the places where I compete in order to have a better understanding and body awareness of the challenges of the particular terrain I will be encountering. I need to be able to afford to spend time in the South Island and have guides work through the entire course challenges with me.
competition, I thought I could go it alone and do it all for myself! I was stubborn, too proud to ask for help or even accept help from those willing to assist. I have always believed that if I wanted something I had to work for it. However, after training for two months, something changed in me and I realized that going it alone was not an option for this event.
My partner and I ventured out into the sponsorship world and I was immensely grateful because the support I received made it possible for me to travel to Christchurch and return, as well as to be comfortable coach Mark Southerland, Jan Keys at JKK racing kayaks for an amazing sponsoring my Cantaberry compression gear, Chris Cox for his guided trips through the run and being a mentor/ role-model, Meier sport for providing training and race gear, Adventure Magazine for encouraging me to write ‘my story’ and guiding me in the right direction, my friends and family for unconditional support. Thank you all so much. In 2010 I will complete what I have started because of your generosity and belief in me.