Her love of exploring the outdoors helped newbie Kathryn Bunckenburg to win top place in the recent Kathmandu Coast to Coast two day event.
The Ara Institute of Canterbury Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education graduate was the first female across the line after 243km of cycling, running and kayaking in one of the world's longest running and most iconic multi-sports events.
With just eight weeks preparation, Kathryn completed the gruelling course in 14:10:58 – 12 minutes in front of her nearest competitor - and even enjoyed the experience.
“The first day was really challenging, because it was a whole lot of proper cycle racing. The first mountain run I enjoyed, but I was under pressure. It was harder than I thought. I loved the second day. I spent four hours on a river and I just love that,” she says.
Although it was her first attempt at the Coast to Coast, Kathryn had plenty of experience of mountains and rivers. “I love adventure racing and multi sports,” she says. “I have a passion for the outdoors. In my free time I run over hills, go kayaking, go mountain biking. My main sport is running around outside anywhere possible.”
She competed in races while studying, including representing New Zealand in a world triathlon in Australia. Challenging herself is simply second nature, in her sports and in her studies.
“I love challenges; I don’t like to do easy things. I wanted to see how hard I could go. I’m a bit surprised that I won. My goal was just to finish, I had zero expectations.”
Her studies taught her that “hard work pays off. I always handed in my assignments on time,” she says. “I learnt to get up in the morning to work out; I learnt that from studying. Being on to it pays off because you’ll get what you want. Ara definitely taught me that.”
Having graduated in 2015, Kathryn is now in her element working as an outdoor instructor in Wellington, where she tutors children in outdoor activities such as rock climbing and tramping.
“That’s why I started the outdoor education programme (at Ara); to learn how to inspire people to get outside. I love introducing new people to outdoor environments.”