The Speight's Coast to Coast has been the world's premier multisport event for 30 years. But like the rest of Christchurch, the 243k race across the South Island has been seriously affected by the earthquake woes of the last 18 months. But race director Robin Judkins reveals that early entries for the 2013 event indicate that the event and its region are on the road to recovery.
Judkins released early bird entries for the 2013 Speight's Coast to Coast in March. Entries prior to March 31 receive a $100 discount and Judkins reports that entries thus far are led by Cantabrians and internationals. This mirrors percentages seen prior to the 2010 September earthquake when the event was experiencing record entries.
"Of 91 entries received thus far, 28 are from Canterbury and 25 are from overseas," says a delighted Judkins.
"Given the earthquakes and global recession," he says, "the take-up by Cantabrians and internationals is astonishing."
Judkins has been at the helm of the world's longest running multisport event since he founded it in 1983, and says the September 2010 and February 2011 quakes created a marked drop in entries.
"It's understandable," he says. "The earthquakes of the past 18 months have been the biggest social and economic impact in the Canterbury region since World War II."
"Prior to 2011 and 2012 Canterbury participants have always made up more than 34 percent of total entries. But this year was an all-time low at 26 percent."
"But I think the region is starting to find its feet again and events such as the Speight's Coast to Coast provide an outlet and motivation that can help our outlook on life."
Like the rest of Christchurch, the earthquakes also affected visiting numbers, says Judkins.
"Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism announced this week that the region has approximately one million less visitors than normal in 2011 to 2012. I can tell you than at least 100 of them were visiting entries from the Speight's Coast to Coast."
"The earthquakes seriously affected Christchurch accommodation, and on top of that the entire world has been working through a financial recession. But now that things are settling and Christchurch is starting a rebuild, people are keen to return and support the region. That will show through in Speight's Coast to Coast entries as well."
Judkins expects to have close to 200 entries by March 31, when the early bird offer closes and adds that the 2012's successful 30th anniversary event should also help push entries back to pre-earthquake levels.
"We had a really good event this year and that always augurs well for the following year. On top of that our documentary films of the event are about to be launched, and they are always well received."
Judkins says a 30 minute television documentary has been taken up by Eurosport, and 2012 participants will receive a copy this week. But a feature length documentary showing all aspects of the event will be released in Cinemas throughout New Zealand during May and June.
"Last year I toured the documentary around 22 cities with 28 screenings and got 25 full-houses," says Judkins, "so I'm looking forward to repeating that again this year."
In the 30 years since 1983's inaugural Speight's Coast to Coast over 18,000 Kiwis have participated in New Zealand's favourite endurance race. More than 6000 of them have been Cantabrians, while more than 2000 people from 26 countries have chosen the event as their taste of Aoteoroa.
The 31st Speight's Coast to Coast will be held on the 8th and 9th of February, 2013.