Wildboy sets his sights on toughest challenge yet; Kathmandu Coast to Coast





New Zealand’s answer to Bear Grylls, Brando Yelavich, has set his sights on his toughest challenge yet; competing in this week’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast multi-sport race.


Set to participate in the iconic two-day event, Brando has had a busy couple of months, getting his grade two kayaking certificate, learning to cycle like a professional and hanging up his hiking boots to practice boulder-hopping. While in good shape, Brando will be tackling the same terrain as professional athletes competing in the Longest Day challenge; Braden Currie and Courtney Atkinson, and Gemma McCaw who is participating in the Mountain Run.


Brando, or ‘Wildboy’ as he’s nicknamed himself, suffers from ADHD and dyslexia and always struggled with conventional learning, so set himself physical challenges instead.


When denied access to the Army, Brando decided that he had something to prove and so became the first person to circumnavigate the coastline of New Zealand’s North and South Island by foot. He set off on February 1st, 2013 with just a 50kg pack and over 570 days he walked, swam, climbed and rafted his way around the country. At the end of last year Brando decided to finish what he’d started and spent thirty days hiking around Stewart Island where he battled summer storms, sub-zero temperatures and fought off cannibalistic rats.


An official adventure-addict, Brando wondered what he could try his hand at next. Now, he’s ready for his most physical challenge yet; the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.


“I’ve always set myself physical challenges that have tested my endurance; body and mind, but competing in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast will be unlike anything I’ve done before,” says Brando.


“I’m so used to exploring our beautiful country on my own and in my own time, so this race makes for a bit of a change – from coast to coast in two days and with nearly 800 others! I’m looking forward to the race, but I’m also a little intimated by it.


“Fortunately, Kathmandu came to the party with some new gear, otherwise I would’ve had to race in my hiking boots!” Brando adds.


Held every February, the Kathmandu Coast to Coast kicks off on the South Island’s West Coast on the black sands of Kumara Beach and traverses the width of the South Island, crossing the main divide and finishing on the East Coast at New Brighton Beach in Christchurch.


Competitors run three kilometres inland to their bikes then follow the Taramakau River to the foothills of the Southern Alps where they switch their bikes for runners and the first true test of the course. The 30.5km run is mostly off trail through a rocky riverbed and is as much a test of coordination and strength as it is speed. A 15km ride follows before the second biggest challenge; a 70-kilometre kayak through the mighty Waimakiri River.


Considered a right of passage for athletes around the world, more than 18,000 people have completed the event in the 33 years since it began.


The two-day event and mountain run kick off this Friday 10th February and the Longest Day World Championship event is held on Saturday 11th.