Matt Harkness #23

12 Coastal Challenges in 12 years!

#WhyWeRun is a subject of many conversations here at Total Sport HQ.  People run for all sorts of reasons, and we find all of them inspiring! Assuming that you will, too, we’re sharing the stories of runners and walkers from all over New Zealand.

In this post we chat with Matt Harkness, who has competed in the Cargo Plus Coastal Challenge for 12 years running (and wading, and swimming). Read on for some awesome inspiration.

How did you first discover the Coastal Challenge and what was your first distance?

I got asked (sucked) into this challenge by a work colleague, Paul. He was keen to try it out as it was different and coastal, he knew I was a runner and he sold me on the coastal features, the hopping, the crawling, he didn’t mention the swimming tho’ and so began the great journey for me. Of course being gung-ho and young at the time we went full throttle, go hard or go home… the Full Monty was the only option for me. I do look at it as a value thing a bit now long 33k (most years, last year it was 35k) so 3+ hours for me and the event pricing makes it really attractive cost wise per time and Km.

What brings you back to the Coastal Challenge year upon year?

Well the biggest draw is it’s a different course every year… how so? Well it’s coastal, you get wet most of the time some years more than others, the cliff face and beaches change, sometimes the beaches are hard, sometimes soft – Cheltenham the killer of legs beach but only sometimes, new obstacles appear and disappear year on year all along the course. Plus it’s a challenge, 33k on this course is more like a 42k marathon on the road for me, but so different due to the scenery. I also love that it is self-supporting, you don’t need someone to give you gear (but it helps) and you can drive to the end, bus to the start, it’s a great system especially if you struggle to get family to pick you up.

What other events do you love (Total Sport or otherwise)?

I have been a secret lover of Total Sport and Aaron’s love of running for years, I’ve tried a couple of Xterras and a couple of other runs are on my bucket list, it’s mainly a life choice at the moment, but for me there is only one which I make time for every year and is a non-negotiable in my family – and that is The Coastal Challenge.

Do you have any big running goals? Care to share?

On my bucket list I have a dreams to do a…

  • 100Km
  • 100 Mile
  • big event like Blue Mountains Ultra or Comrades or a big USA Ultra run
  • To run the Coastal Challenge with one of my kids (I have a 6 few years wait yet for this one)

…I did at one time think of entering a team of 1 for around Taupo challenge, it’s in the back of my mind.

What got you into running? What motivates you to continue?

It was a work colleague get together, we used to walk to lunch and the pub, our bellies grew, health consciousness kicked in and so a couple of us decided to start running. We needed some motivation so we chose an event, the then BMW Half marathon was a target, that was the start. I found I like long runs preferably off road and with scenery is my preference now, and I am not so fast at doing them but I do like getting out of the office and on the road, track or trail and chatting on the trot. I also am a very competitive spirit so I like to push myself and try new things. And now as I am older it’s about keeping the 1st place in the age grouping of 40-50 in the Coastal Challenge.

Keen to tackle the Cargo Plus Coastal Challenge yourself? Learn more here!

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