Wanaka based multisport, triathlete and endurance racer Dougal Allan is the first big name to confirm he will be on the start line of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast in February, hoping he can go better than his three second place efforts.
Allan, who in recent years has focused more on long distance adventure racing and triathlon events, says that deep down he always knew he would be back at an event he hasn’t done since 2013 when he was third behind Braden Currie and Richard Ussher, it was just a matter of when.
“With three second placings there was always going to be a feeling of unfinished business with the race,” Allan said. “That said, it is more the whole event experience I have really missed. No triathlon will ever offer quite the same sense of satisfaction that covering the Kathmandu Coast to Coast course does and more than anything I miss being around the people that are involved in this race. The multisport community is unique and very special to be part of.”
Allan also says that having his long-time friend and racing partner Glen Currie as the event’s new Race Director was also a factor, as he is keen to compete next year to show his support for Currie’s involvement in the race.
Currie said he was excited to have Allan back in the race where his career began. “Dougal is one of the most well rounded athletes to ever compete in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast and it will be exciting to see what he can achieve as a result of the speed he has gained from focusing on ironman events.”
Allan’s immediate focus has been getting back in a kayak with his initial training efforts going better than he expected.
“I started to paddle with very low expectations but I have been excited by my initial impressions of being back in a kayak. Stability, technique and even speed all seem similar to what I used to see. I credit much of this to the crossover from swimming as there is a lot I have learned in the swimming environment around attention to detail, working wider energy system spectrum’s and even biomechanics that I plan to bring across to my kayak preparation this time around.”
The 33 year old says he is still aiming to be better in each sport every day, that is no different with the kayak and he genuinely believes he can be in the best kayak shape of his life by February next year, knowing that will be the his biggest challenge along with trying to rediscover his rock and trail running ability.
“The Coast to Coast certainly demands a very unique and specialised skill set,” he said. “The beauty of triathlon is you can develop a range of skills and fitness levels that transfer widely across most races all year around. With the Coast to Coast I will need to work towards becoming a certain type of athlete for one day only, but the journey towards this has me probably more excited about training than I have been in years.”
Allan has a few trips to Arthurs Pass planned for the coming summer with his wife and children which he says will make for some family adventures they will likely cherish as much as the race day experience itself.
“As a coach I probably have approximately thirty to forty percent of my clients doing the event so that was also a motive for me as I was beginning to feel I was starting to lose touch with what my athletes needed to be doing to have their best race at the Coast to Coast. Coaching for me is very much a long term prospect, so it definitely helps influence my decisions as much as my athlete aspirations do.”
The mouth-watering prospect of Allan taking on defending two time World Championship Longest Day winner Sam Clark is not on the cards at this stage with Clark restating his intention not to race in February, but Clark has no hesitation to say that Allan will be a major factor in the race.
“I know that a Coast win has been on Dougal’s hit list for many years and if he approaches the event with the same vigour which he brings to his Ironman training he will be very difficult to beat,” Clark said.
Allan says the list of previous winners of the event is quite astounding, and has been impressed that Clark has added his name to a list of multi-sport legends that includes Steve Gurney, Keith Murray, Australian John Jacoby, Ussher and Currie.
“His name very much belongs there and I respect Sam as an athlete immensely, however he has won so impressively in recent years I think the elite race has become a little too predictable. While I would dearly love to achieve a lifelong dream by winning the race, my primary goal is to contribute to an exciting race for the podium spots. Close competition is great for any sport and event profile and I hope to be part of the entertainment in 2019.”
Organisers are excited with the early interest in February’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast highlighted by the early bird discounted entry fee already sold out. Currie said the entries were on track to follow this year’s result that saw the event completely full for the first time in almost 10 years.