By WORDS: JAMES BOWSTEAD 1/03/2017 12:42 pm
The 2017 champions preparation for the iconic New Zealand multisport race.    

Multisport Athlete, Sam Clark, is no stranger to tackling the toughest endurance events. The NZ athlete famously won the two-day Coast to Coast event at just 18 years of age and dominates the Longest Day Coast to Coast event, having won in 2016 and recently retaining his title in February 2017. Sam’s attention-to-detail and knowledge of the technical aspects of his sport, equates to gains in competition.

Expertly maintained equipment includes the body, putting nutrition at the highest level on the list of priorities.  A mechanical engineer by trade, Sam uses his technical eye and attention to detail to maximise his training and preparation for each event.  

After defending his Coast to Coast title in one of the closest finishes in the history of the event, Sam shared how he prepares for such a physically and mentally challenging event in the hope it may help others to follow in his footsteps.  

What areas were most important for you as you prepared to defend your 2016 title this year?  

SAM CLARK:  The biggest thing for me was getting back into a frame of mind where winning was the number one outcome.  It would be pointless investing so much time into something that I don’t really want to do.  I also placed a lot more emphasis on paddling this year, which is my strength, rather than trying to match my competitors’ running abilities. 

Sam Clark wins the C2C

As defending champion, were there any nerves in the build up? 

SAM CLARK:  I try not to think too much about what my competition is doing. I only have control over what I do each day and so I focused on that.  My biggest worry was that after winning in 2016 I wouldn’t want it as much in 2017, and then when the time came, I wouldn’t dig deep. 

Has this year’s event given you any areas to improve on in the future? 

SAM CLARK:  Each race is an opportunity to learn and improve.  This year I paid very close attention to my nutrition before and during the event with guidance from Nutritionist and Coast winner Emily Miazga.  It helped to know ahead of time that at least in theory I wasn’t going to run out of gas.

As the champion you could imagine most people look up to you as an example in this event. What advice can you offer them for improving their performance? 

SAM CLARK: Concentrate on incremental improvements and enjoy the journey. Coast to Coast is a very complex event and you can only focus on one small section at a time. 

What part of the race do you find the most mentally challenging and how do you deal with that on the course? 

SAM CLARK:  Staying focused for more than 11 hours can be pretty tough, because of the technical terrain, it is hard to get into a good rhythm like you can in Ironman.  I like to take micro breaks every 45 minutes or so and take a few deep breaths to re-focus and stay in the moment.

“I never stopped fighting.It’s not over till it’s over. Never stop fighting, never, never give up, that’s what I did. I’ve never focused so hard in my life. To be the best you’ve got to beat the best and I bloody did it.” 

And physically? 

SAM CLARK: The length of the race, 243km is a long way and over difficult terrain too. Things are going to hurt a lot before the end and that’s going to be a lot worse if you run out of energy, so I have a good nutrition plan and then stick to it. 

What comes next for you? 

SAM CLARK: I’m going to take a little break from racing.  I bought a nice new white water kayak a couple of months back that has only been out once, so I want to spend a bit of time on the river. My swimming isn’t strong enough to be competitive in Tri’s yet either so I’ll be working on that too.

Sam Clark Radix Nutrition athlete