Taking on multisport challenges with your family

Written by : Team Subaru


The Kathmandu Coast to Coast tests athletes to their limits as they traverse 243km across the rugged South Island from the West Coast to the East Coast and every year they all take plenty of learnings away.

This year, the Seelen family from Nelson took on the challenge after they won a team entry with Subaru to the iconic endurance event. Parents Mary and Todd banded together with their son Ben to bike, run and kayak their way from Kumara beach across the Main Divide to New Brighton beach. Mary did the run, Todd did the cycling stint and Ben took on the kayak leg. They had an incredible experience and came away with some top tips for anyone wanting to give this epic undertaking a crack. Check them out here!

The Seelen family three team entry crossing the finish line at Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

Tips for taking on a multisport event:

  • Training, training, training! The race is long and gruelling, so unless adventure racing is your day job, they definitely recommend training for longer in the lead up. The Seelens found out they would be competing in September, so only had four and a half months to get race ready. This was not so bad for the young fella, but for mum and dad, they would've liked to have had a little longer, especially as Todd hadn't been on his bike for a few years!

Seelen family with the Subaru lead vehicles for Coast to Coast.

  • Practice in similar environments. Todd took on the bike leg and benefitted from doing a lot of hill work and riding into the wind on his bike during his training sessions. This prepared him for the infamous headwind that assails racers as they embark on the final 70km bike ride towards the finish line in Christchurch. It’s important to remember that your training environment can be quite different than the actual race, so if you can, try and get out in similar environments so you can start to accustom to what you might expect.


  • Look after yourself in training. A training accident trail running at Lake Rotorua resulted in Mary ending up at A&E, with sprains and strains to her arm, hip, knee and ankle. Injuring yourself before a big race like the Kathmandu Coast to Coast is certainly less than ideal! The upside was that she learnt how to push through extra pain on the 32km run section, and Mary realised she was capable of more than she realised. She would, however, avoid running into trees before an event in the future!

Mary Seelen trained for the run leg of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

  • Cycle with friends. Getting some experience bunch riding would've been beneficial for Todd, as most of his training had been by himself which was quite a different style. He did manage to learn a lot about this style of road biking over the two days of competing in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast which will help for next year! If you know others who are competing in Coast to Coast do cycling to keep active, suggest cycling together to get some bunch riding practice.


  • Rolling down the river. Knowing how to roll a kayak on purpose is an important skill to learn when taking on a kayaking event. While it can seem unnatural, it’s helpful for racing. For Ben, learning how to roll a kayak before the race would have upped his confidence in the 67km kayak section. It would’ve meant he could pick faster lines that others weren't choosing, which would’ve upped his enjoyment levels.

Ben Seelen took on the kayak leg and learning to roll would have helped him on the day.

  • Find yourself a fabulous support crew. For Mary, having her whole family as their support crew at the Kathmandu Coast to Coast was both inspiring and motivating. It was definitely a family affair for the Seelens, with husband Todd and eldest son Ben competing in her team and sons Liam (12) and Sam (20) as their support crew, plus her son Brodie (16) competing in the two-day individual race. “There’s nothing quite like having each other throughout this journey to support and encourage one another,” Mary says.

Subaru team entry Seelen family and their fabulous support crew for the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

The Seelens didn't expect a podium finish, but it came as a pleasant surprise that they placed third in the 2-day family team category! Along with the result, they took away many treasured memories, Mary says.

“Both at the event but equally in the lead up to it with lots of shared training runs, bikes and kayaks. It has been a really positive and bonding experience, and one that I'd highly recommend to other families! A massive thank you to Subaru New Zealand for actually making this all possible!”

The Seelen family crossing the finish line at Kathmandu Coast to Coast


The Kathmandu Coast to Coast has already sold out for the 2021 event, but if you’re interested in finding out more or joining the wait list to challenge yourself with this multisport endurance event, visit www.coasttocoast.co.nz

Entries to the mountain run open in September 2020. 


To find out more about Subaru's SUVs, visit www.subaru.co.nz/suv


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