Former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil Hamish Elliott (23) has returned to North Otago after a spell in Southland. The talented multisporter and endurance runner recently finished seventh in the gruelling Longest Day section of the Coast to Coast, and has other adventures planned. He talks to Hayden Meikle
Q: Was this your first crack at the Coast to Coast?
Second. I did it last year but only the two-day race.
Q: How did you find the Longest Day?
Yeah, it was really good. I didn’t get any coaching last year, but this year I wanted to get coached. It was really good to be able to time myself to peak for the week of the Coast to Coast. I worked with Mark Prutton, from Christchurch. We’d do four-week blocks, working on one discipline at a time. Then we changed it up about six weeks before the race, doing two or three disciplines a session.
Q: Was the leap from the two-day event to the one-day race tough?
Probably it was just the endurance. You have to be super aware you have 12-plus hours ahead of you, and you can’t burn out too fast. Fluids and nutrition are so important. With the two-day, you know you’ve got a rest coming, so you can go a bit mad. Being race-smart and having a plan is the key to the Longest Day.
Q: Did you feel like hitting the wall at any stage?
I handled it OK. I knew I was fit enough. But there was a point on the run where, with a couple of kilometres to go, I was pretty buggered because I’d done the run reasonably quickly. My legs didn’t have a lot in them.
Q: What state are you in after such a tough event like that?
You know you’ve done a tough day. Your muscles are sore, and you do feel pain. But it probably wasn’t until the Monday until I felt absolutely drained. On the Sunday, you’re still buzzing a bit, probably from caffeine and sugar. Monday and Tuesday, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and eat. It takes it out of you.
Q: Will you do it again?
I probably will go back, as long as I can balance it with work. I’m off to do the Motatapu marathon this weekend, which is actually my first marathon. My coach thought I should do a couple more events while I have that base of fitness. I’d be keen to do get into some more adventure racing. It’s just the sense of achievement I like – getting to the highest level you possibly can. And the adventure of it. Most weekends, I’m off on a kayaking trip or a run around some different places. You get to cruise around some new areas.
Q: Were you always into endurance running?
Yeah, it was always my strongest thing in athletics. Cross-country was kind of a strength. But I played rugby right through my life, so I never really committed to multisport until my sister did the Coast to Coast.
Q: Who did you play rugby for?
I played First XV rugby at school. Then I played a couple of seasons for the Clinton club, and two seasons for Ohai-Nightcaps. I worked as a shepherd down there. I had a big team of dogs, and I ended up at Mt Linton. I got really into dog trialling.
Q: Tell me about your sister’s influence.
Claire is two years older than me. She got into the Coast to Coast the year before me. She was in Christchurch at the time, which is quite a big multisport area, and she’s in Te Anau now. We did the Red Bull Defiance together in January, and she’s in the middle of the Godzone race.
Q: What do you do for a crust now?
I work on our neighbour’s dairy farm. Over the summer, I was just relief and casual so I could commit to training. But I’ve just started fulltime, so I will have to be pretty organised with training.