Olympian Atkinson takes on Coast to Coast Challenge

MULTI-SPORT: He is a six-time Australian Triathlon champion, and three-time Noosa Triathlon winner.

Not to mention a two-time national Xterra champion and dual Olympian eyeing a third Games campaign. .

With a resume as impressive as that , what more could there be left for the Mackay-born, Gold Coast-based athlete Courtney Atkinson to conquer?

The answer lies not on our shores, but across the Tasman on New Zealand's south island - at the Kathmandu Coast to Coast World Championship, at which he will compete on Saturday.

"It's pain for anyone," the 37-year-old tells News Regional Media.

It has been dubbed 'The Longest Day' for a reason. It is a gruelling 243km race which puts every competitor's mental and physical attributes to an extreme test.

The challenge will start at Kumara Beach on the western side of South Island, cross the Southern Alps then finish at New Brighton Pier on the east coast.

By foot, bicycle and kayak, top athletes will complete the course in 11 hours.

Atkinson, who competed at the Beijing and London Games and has set his sights on Tokyo 2020, said this was a new challenge.

"The basis of the endeavour is the same (as triathlon), but the skills and discipline you need adds another dimension," he said.

"There's all these other aspects that add to it, you don't usually get them in triathlon."

The 70km kayak segment may be one of Atkinson's toughest hurdles.

It is a foreign vessel for surf ski specialist, and will require not only extra training to get used to using a kayak, but staying in that position for hours on end.

"The biggest challenge becomes sitting in that boat for so long. I've never done it before so it's going to be difficult," Atkinson said.

"We'll paddle for five, six, hours. You can't prepare for that one at all."

Atkinson flew to New Zealand earlier this week , and will paddle the first and last thirds of the kayaking course before Saturday's race.

"I'm really looking forward to it," he said.

"In the last decade there hasn't been anything that's got me this excited."

Atkinson will strive to be the first Australian since John Jacoby in 1993 to win the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.



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