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The Coast to Coast stage adventure race: Your next challenge?

2 comments 11:43 17th July 2013 By Fi Spotswood

Open Adventure’s Coast to Coast Adventure Race follows the principal of C2C founder, Alfred Wainwright, in setting off from St Bees Head and finishing in the spectacular Robin Hoods bay. But rather than sticking to hiking, in true AR style, the race allows competitors to experience the splendor of Northern England by mountain bike and kayak as well. There might even be some open water swimming thrown in, and don’t forget the navigation! Could this be your next challenge?

Effort in the shadow of mountains

Effort in the shadow of mountains

For a short TV show about the 2011 event, click here for Episode 1 and here for Episode 2.


Beautiful scenery guaranteed

Beautiful scenery guaranteed

This year, the Coast to Coast takes place between 23rd and 26th August, making the most of the bank holiday weekend. You can race as a solo or a mixed team of three, but to help with logistics, only two of the team ever compete at any one time (and all the team members must complete at least two stages of the race). The third is team support – and this is a self-supported event. They might drive the kit from one transition to another, cook up food, massage aching shoulders and offer encouragement.

However, most teams have external helpers too, because even racers having an easy time of it will be tired from their exertions and preparing for their next stage. The supporters, made up of abandoned husbands, grown up children, friends and injured team mates, throng to the C2C because it’s as much about them as the race itself. In fact the supporters compete with each other in their own way, making sure their transition set-up is the slickest, their cakes are the moistest and their cheering the loudest. It is a truly sociable, inclusive race for competitors and pom-pom wavers.

The race takes place over four days and each night the cavalcade stops in a market town for quality camping, complete with showers and a campsite. This is no expedition race with its ‘wild’ sleeping and lack of toilets. Racers and competitors even have the chance to enjoy the local food as well as socialize with other racers, perhaps at a local hostelry. Each evening there will be a briefing for the following day in a local hall where, in true Strava style, there will award a prize to the fastest up the big hill that day (King of the Mountains). No polkadot jerseys here, though; just the normal adventure racing bib.

The indomitable Stu Lynch, winner of the 2011 edition

The indomitable Stu Lynch, winner of the 2011 edition

The route of the Coast to Coast is not kept secret, and all summer, competitors who fancy their chances at the podium are out recce-ing parts of the course. It is particularly the transitions in towns which catch them out as a few tiny wrong turns and back tracks through the myriad of streets can waist seconds when seconds count (as second placed male solo Bruce Duncan discovered a few years ago). But the navigation isn’t hard and there are generally a lot of people around – if you’re going the right! “Navigation is an important element of this race, but it’s not as technical as others”, explained race director James Thurlow. For example, there is no route choice element, nor strategy. You just follow the course marked on the map and do it as fast as you can. if you’re interested in the routebook, it can be downloaded here.



The route:

Day 1:

  • Kayak around St Bees Head
  • Cycle over North Western Lakes
  • Kayak Crummock and Buttermere
  • Run over Cat Bells
  • Swim across Derwent

Day 2:

  • Road cycle to Thirlmere
  • Run over Helvellyn
  • Kayak along Ullswater
  • Cycle over Shap Hills

Day 3:

  • Run over Nine Standards
  • Mtb along Swaledale
  • Cycle through Vale of York

Day 4:

  • Cycle through Vale of York
  • Mtb across North York Moors and Esk Valley to Whitby
  • Run to the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay

So, if you’re tempted by this epic challenge, which has all the makings of a fun family weekend away mixed in, get in touch with Open Adventure (www.openadventure.com) to see if they can squeeze you in for this year, or hold out until the next edition. 

Great atmosphere at Robin Hood's Bay

Great atmosphere at Robin Hood’s Bay

The Facts

Name: The Coast to Coast Adventure Race

Distance (rough): 220km

Ascent: 6000m

Terrain: Off road tracks, trails and fell, road, water (sea and lake)

Entry fee: Solo – £400; team per person – £320

Navigation required:  Yes.

How Hard: 8/10 but if you race in a team you can tailor your race according to your strengths and only do the bits you’re good at.

Overview: A true stage race like no other. Four days of racing magic with social evenings and spectacular scenery on every day. One to do with your best buddies.

When to go: The race is run every other year on the August bank holiday.

What do I need?
  • Mountain bike or cyclocross (not recommended) with change of tyres
  • All appropriate bike tools and spares plus bike safety equipment (e.g. helmet)
  • Windproof or waterproof top (depending on conditions)
  • Waterproof bottoms (depending on conditions)
  • First aid kit
  • Foil blanket
  • Compass and map
  • Tracker (supplied)
  • Whistle
  • Emergency food
  • Head torch for evening stage
How to prepare:

Do the appropriate run, bike, swim and kayak training, depending on what you’ll be doing in the race. Practice going up hill (and down) and practice your navigation. Getting in as many shorter adventure races is a good tip, but there are plenty of people around to help you if you’re throwing yourself in at the deep end!

Similar Events:

Scotland Coast to Coast (September 14th/15th)

Further info:


Open water swimming

Open water swimming



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