Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

NZALPA senior pilots compete in gruelling ‘Coast to Coast’ multi-sport race

NZALPA President Tim Robinson and fellow member and A320 Captain, Sven Zaalberg.

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is one of the most iconic and well-known multi-sport endurance races on earth. It’s a 243km journey of cycling, mountain running and kayaking right across the South Island from Kumara on the West Coast over to Christchurch.

This year’s sell-out event had record numbers competing and, for many of NZALPA’s Christchurch and wider South Island-based members, the race has almost become a ‘rite of passage.’ There is a long list of member names who have competed in the past such as the Clulows (both Junior and Senior), Lewis, Clark, Collie, Van Woerkom, Jones, Ward and Graham – to name just a few.

Back in April last year NZALPA President Tim Robinson and fellow member and A320 Captain, Sven Zaalberg, made the big decision to take on the challenge in 2018.   Both had competed in the past but were hoping this year’s race would see big improvements in their times and placings.

Following nine months of intensive training Robinson lined up for the two-day individual race, held over the weekend of 9-10 February, and Zaalberg for the one ‘longest day’ individual race.  The weather played its part providing two beautiful days of spectacular South Island scenery and some exciting racing.

Tim ‘Grafter’ Robinson endured two hard days of racing, backing up some solid cycling with his fastest-ever kayak paddle down the Waimakariri Gorge and a steady mountain run across Goat Pass.  His family support crew reportedly turned out some slick transitions and overall had him crossing the finishing line, at New Brighton Beach, in fourth place for his age category of ‘Classics’ – the 50 year plus athletes.

Meanwhile, Sven ‘Speedster’ Zaalberg produced a great performance in his ‘longest day’ race, finishing on the podium in third place for his age category of ‘Veterans’ - 40 year plus athletes. Following a sprint start off Kumara Beach he backed up a very fast mountain run with a strong kayak and a quick cycle into a typical Canterbury North-east headwind to the finish line.

Both Robinson and Zaalberg described an outstanding two days of racing and reckon they did New Zealand pilots and air traffic controllers proud! Both pilots have now laid down the challenge to other NZALPA members, encouraging those who would like to test themselves both physically and mentally to give it a go.

“It is a truly outstanding race and within anyone’s grasp if they put in the hard training yards prior to race day,” Robinson said.

“Thanks to all our supporters, colleagues and families who encouraged us throughout this challenging journey.”

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