40th Kathmandu Coast to Coast

  • New Zealand (NZL)
  • Off-Road Running
  • Off-Road Cycling
  • Paddling

A 40-year Love Affair with the Coast to Coast

Press Release / 02.01.2022See All Event Posts Follow Event
Dave Pilditch, Alister Metherell and Joe Sherriff in 1983
Dave Pilditch, Alister Metherell and Joe Sherriff in 1983

Joe Sherriff is looking forward to the Kathmandu Coast to Coast in 2022. It’ll be a chance to catch up with some old friends, challenge himself and reflect on his many memories and long association with the event, after winning the inaugural event almost 40 years ago.

In 1983, Sherriff, a young doctor from the UK, was in New Zealand completing his specialist anesthetist training. He loved the outdoors, was an accomplished runner and was up for a challenge. So, when a friend told him about a new event being put together by a man called Robin Judkin, he was keen to give it a go.

Sherriff said he had no idea what he was getting himself in for and nor did he have any expectation of what place he might finish, but as he passed the legendary Graeme Dingle, only other competitor between him and the finish line, the reality that he was about to win the first ever Coast to Coast set in.

“It felt pretty good,” Sherriff says of the win.

After completing his final year of study in New Zealand, Sherriff returned home to the UK to a job he had lined up. He did however, return in 1984 to have another go.

“I finished about 17th in ’84. Trying to train in winter and holding down a full-time job was a bit harder than training in New Zealand in the summer when you don’t have a job. The year I won it, I had finished work in Dunedin at the end of December and I managed to put off going back to work in the UK until the middle of March.”

Following the 1983 and 1984 events Sherriff spent the next 10 years working, having a family and dedicating his time to search and rescue, which also included training and running a search dog for a number of years. In 1991 he emigrated to New Zealand and the following year decided to have another crack at the Coast to Coast.

“I’d always had a hankering to do the one-day event. It was obvious to me after the first two years that it could be done in just a day.”

Sherriff borrowed a kayak and started training, but pulled a calf muscle.

“I was hobbling horribly but I got to the start line, however that was one of very few years that the event got washed out.

With the trophy in 1983

“The two-day competitors had an absolute epic on the mountain run with people being rescued by helicopter all over the place. The one-day mountain run and kayak legs were both cancelled. We ran over Arthurs Pass and then jumped on the bikes at Klondyke and rode all the way to Sumner – a fairly long bike ride!”

Sherriff entered the following year, but with full on work commitments, search and rescue duties and family life he pulled out. Then almost a decade later, seemingly out of the blue Sherriff received a call from a reporter asking him to confirm a press release from Robin Judkin, that he would be returning to the Coast to Coast for its 20th anniversary.

“Robin was scrambling around trying to get as many of the first timers as he could back for the 20th. I think he managed to get half a dozen of us doing it. I did one or two long runs and joined in with the Southland Multi Sport Club which was really strong then. They were fantastic. I was so disgusted with my time, I think it was about 16 hours, I vowed to do it again the following year.

Sherriff then went on to compete for the next 8 years consecutively.

“Eventually I managed to beat my original time for the event by half an hour,” he says.

Aside from winning the event, which he says is a great feeling and helped to create the special relationship he has with the Coast to Coast, there have been a number of highlights over the years, including doing it with his son James in the tandem two-day in 2007.

“It was really good doing it with him. He was a very good kayaker and just got stuck in and did it.”

 Another standout memory was when he fully capsized in his kayak in the boulder field, rolled back up and continued on.

Sherriff believes the Coast to Coast is an event for anyone.

“I have said often that anyone can do it. If you can ride a bit, kayak a bit and be on your feet for several hours then it is within the ability of everybody.”

For Sherriff, every year he has competed there has been a different motivation or reason why.

Next year when he competes for his 14th time in 40 years, it will be for the accomplishment of doing so.

 “My only aim will be to get to the finish line, I expect to be exceedingly slow, but I’m looking forward to giving it another go.”

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