Smooth Transitions and Nutrition for Coast to Coast

Smooth Transitions and Nutrition for Coast to Coast

Powergirl Em, M.Sc. Clinical Nutrition, 3x Coast to Coast World Multisport Champ and Creator of Em’s Power Cookies

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is literally RIGHT around the corner. ARE YOU READY??

2021 year marks the 10th year since I stopped racing, which seems like yesterday. During my retirement, I have still been very much involved with the event as a former sponsor, by helping other athletes in the Longest Day, as well as participating in a couple 2-day events which was a ton of fun. I am also active with my nutrition consulting and mountain run guiding.

Goat Pass guiding with Team Topsport

I have helped several athletes over the years with hands-on sponsorship, meaning in addition to getting yummy Em’s Power Cookies, they also got the “Powergirl full-meal deal”! This included staying at my accommodation hook-up close to the start line, and my support crewing. We had some very successful years between Jess Simson, Simone Maier and of course Sam Clark who I crewed for over 3 years of his winning Coast. In helping others, I was able to add more layers to my experience and about how to prepare for this event, and how not to prepare.

Power couple Sam Clark and Zowie Cruz

The first thing is NUTRITION. I have always said that Coast to Coast is a race that is all about energy management. Nutrition can be confusing, but it certainly does not have to be. I will share with you here pretty much the exact plan that I used successfully for years, and any athlete that I have helped follows something very similar.

Nutrition boils down to 3 things: carb, carb, and carb. Forget about calories or branch chain amino acids. You body just needs carb. And by adding some real food, like Em’s Power Cookies or even some potatoes or vegemite sandwiches to the mix you will get a little protein and fat to help with satiation. But do not over-consume protein or fat because this displaces the all-important carb.

Heading down Goat Pass is an ideal time to eat an Em’s Bar

Follow this plan and you will be happy and have a great day! This applies to the 2-day event as well. Everything in this plan will give you enough energy, sodium and hydration. Be sure to mix your sports drink according to package instructions – do not over-dilute! 3 scoops per bottle or 4 scoops per litre is the usual recipe.

Leg of Race

What to Consume

Grams Carb*

First bike Kumara to Aikens

1-2 bottle sports drink – I recommend Pure Sports Nutrition or Horley’s Replace

1 Em’s Power Cookie, 80g




Mountain run

4-6 gels

9-12 gummy snakes or chews

1-2 Em’s Power Cookie, 80g




Middle bike to Mt. White

1 bottle sports drink

1 Em’s Power Cookie, 80g, or 2 medium sized potatoes, or vegemite sandwich




3L sports drink

1.5L Coke

1 Em’s Power Cookie, 80g or 500mL of liquid food such as Up & Go




Final bike

1 bottle sports drink

1 bottle Coke

3 gels or 15 gummy snakes or chews





Grams carb approximate values*

880 – 1028g

Sam Clark’s very well-prepared mountain running pack, locked and loaded with 2x Em’s Power Cookies


Bento box on the bike with Em’s and gels loaded

The next thing to prepare for is you TRANSITIONS. I have always prided myself on my speedy, smooth, and for the most part calm transitions. In order to look like a pro there are 3 important considerations: preparation, practice, and relaxation. Rushing things or panicking will ruin any good plan, so just slow down for 2 seconds and stay cool. Follow this plan to look and feel awesome.


What to do


Kumara first run to bike

Bike is racked, run through TA, pick up bike, run it out to the mounting line and go!

Bike helmet, spare tube/tubular, 2x C02 cannisters, tyre levers, ankle reflectors, shoe-plates if not using bike shoes.

Nutrition is loaded on the bike.

Aikens to mountain run

Dismount bike at Aikens, run into TA and rack bike, run through the chute to the crew.

Drop helmet, any rubbish, and ankle reflectors. If doing a shoe change then have running shoes opened and ready. Grab mountain pack and go!

Mountain running pack with compulsory gear, and nutrition loaded, including a vessel for scooping water

Mountain run to middle bike

Run through TA, start to undo pack, crew meets you and takes you to your bike. Remove and drop pack. Put on helmet, grab bike with gear and nutrition loaded on the bike and go! Shoe change if using bike shoes

Bike helmet, spare tube/tubular, 2x C02 cannisters, tyre levers, shoe plates if not using bike shoes.

Nutrition is loaded on the bike.

Middle bike to kayak

Ride up to the Mt. White TA and rack your bike and helmet. 1 crew member meets you there and runs down the hill, offering drinks and snacks.

Bib stays on until you cross Mt. White Bridge.

Get into kayak gear as early as possible once over the bridge. Stay on the move…

Peel off bib and hand to crew who turns it inside right.

Step into paddle shorts.

The other crew member assists you into gear:

Dive into spray skirt, do not pull down too far.

Dive into PFD and do up the buckle.

Dive into bib.

Hand over kayak helmet.

Hand over sunglasses.

1st crew member jumps ahead and puts kayak into water.

Kick off running shoes, and slip on booties, and jump into kayak.

Crew straddles the kayak, front and back of the cockpit. Back person does up spray skirt first, then front person does up front.

Connect the tubes for the drinking system to the PFD. Crew to remind athlete to check drinking system is ON.

Crew hands athlete the paddle correct R/L way, and go!

Kayak helmet, sunglasses if using, dry bag with compulsory gear, paddle, spray skirt, booties.


Drinking system: bladders loaded with sports drink and Coke to be secured into the kayak preferably in front of the seat under the legs, so if anything goes wrong you can easily access it to fix. Any extra food is loaded in the PFD.  

Kayak to final bike

Paddle up to Gorge Bridge! Event crew will pull you out of the boat.

Run through the chute. Once through start peeling off kayak gear while on the go, and drop for your crew to pick up.

One crew member runs up the hill with you while the other is at the bike racks. As you run up the hill, put on your race bib, helmet and sunglasses and follow your crew member to your bike. Do all this on the move.

Once you arrive at your bike, change into your bike shoes, un-rack your bike and take it up to the road and go!

Bike helmet (aero for Longest Day), sunglasses, spare tube/tubular, 2x C02 cannisters, tyre levers, bike shoes.

Nutrition is loaded on the bike but your crew can also tuck extra into back pockets of your bike top as you run up the hill.

Remember to take care of your support crew and have fun!

Notes and tips:

  • Have your crew keep bike in an easy gear for each TA so you can jump on and pedal off with ease, then change up as you get into it
  • The crew is to go over the bike very carefully after each leg to check tyres for any cuts or damage, re-check tyre pressure, clean and re-lube chain
  • Crew removes nutrition packets and replace bottles with fresh sports drink
  • Tape energy bars and gels onto the bike frame or use a bento-box, so nutrition is always loaded on the bike and ready
  • Final TA from kayak to ride, your crew can tuck food into your back pockets while running up the hill to the bike
  • Do not roll the bike tyres over prickles or sharp gravel
  • For the kayak TA make sure you are well-practiced diving into your gear, doing it on the move is not only fun, but also fast and looks cool! Bib off – dive into spray skirt, dive into PFD, dive back into bib, then helmet on
  • It really helps to have the gear laid out in the order that it goes on, and practice getting into it with your crew
  • You may or may not paddle with paddle shorts. Personally, I found it more comfortable to slip into some paddle shorts, which helped reduce chaffing on my lower back and padded me out in my seat. This was an Andrew Martin tip (RIP The Legend)
  • Highly recommend using a drinking system with bladders in your kayak, holding your sports drink and Coke. Use a foam block to run the tubes up, and Velcro it to your PFD. Be sure to get the position right so you can sip easily
  • Crew to ensure the drinking system is working/on, tied into the boat securely, and duct-tape all connections
  • If something happens out of your control, stay calm and if you get delayed waiting for something use the time to take on some nutrition, or do some stretching and trust that your crew is doing their best
  • Remember if a mistake is made in transitions it is your responsibility to ensure this does not happen, not your crew’s fault! Be sure your crew has clear instruction and notes are a must

I hope all this information helps you and remember to HAVE FUN! Have an awesome Coast to Coast and I will be out there cheering!

Cheers, from Powergirl Em

Sam Clark winning his 4th C2C title

This man – Len Smyth of Topsport has been an integral part of hundreds of athletes’ successes. Go Lenny!


  1. Avatar

    When I did my first 2 day individual C2C, green as green, at the tender age of 55, you were wonderful at giving me advice. Im now doing my third one, totally addicted. Your power bars are ledgend and Im please to read your nutritian plan and see I’m not too far off the track. Have to say I love a Sheffield pie at my kayak to cycle stage and I always focus on my mantra, “I’m out there for a good time not a long time”

    • Avatar

      That’s awesome to hear Lynette! So happy for you and glad to have been of some help. Love your mantra – I totally agree! Cheers and good luck, Powergirl Em


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