Mo Bro BOC in a kayak paddling down a river.
Mo Bro BOC spears through the water.Image by: Supplied
Mo Bro BOC in a kayak paddling down a river.
Mo Bro BOC running up a track across a mountain.
Mo Bro BOC on road bike wearing Movember sportswear.
15 March 2023

Coast to Coast with Ben O’Carroll

5 minutes read time

When Ben O’Carroll, aka BOC, isn’t busy tending to his animals, drumming in his band or being a Movember community ambassador… he runs. Like… a lot.

This year Ben took on the famous Coast To Coast, an iconic multisport race on the South Island that has been running for over 41 years. 242km in total, Coast To Coast is a gruelling test of endurance which includes mountain running, cycling, and kayaking.

Why is Movember important to you?

I’m based in rural North Canterbury and work in the sheep and beef farming sector. I first got involved with Movember back in 2021, when I ran 111km from The Cheviot Trust Hotel down to The Carlton Pub in Papanui. I’ve seen how Movember can help other young men in New Zealand and provide tools for people in need. Having suppressed my own mental health issues, I feel I can relate to people who may not feel comfortable opening up. I want to assist in supporting people, particularly younger men in the rural sector, and hope to be someone they can call on.

Tell us a bit about the Coast to Coast.

The Coast to Coast is a multisport race that starts on the west coast of the South Island and finishes in Christchurch on the east coast. It’s 243km long and includes three disciplines: road cycling, mountain running and downriver kayaking. It can be raced in either the classic 2-day event or completed in one day, which is labelled “The Longest Day. As one of NZ’s toughest challenges, it involves multiple river crossings, up and downhill runs and rough river paddling conditions in addition to the long cycling routes.

Who did you sign up with and what kind of training did you do?

I signed up as an individual but knew a few people who had entered a variety of categories. This was great as I got to train and prepare with friends in the lead-up to the event, as well as support each other in working towards our shared goal. I learned a lot about nutrition, rest and recovery as well as how to build fitness the correct way. Training usually consisted of 1-2 hours a day 5-7 days a week.

How did the event go? Give us the low-down.

The day started off with a bang at Kumara beach, as we set off straight into a 2.2km sprint towards our bikes. I experienced a small cramp as we got cycling, but soaking up the atmosphere helped me quickly forget about the discomfort as I rode with a group of 20 riders. The support crew were amazing at the transition and with a quick changeover my running shoes were on – and I was off! I was forced to slow my pace a bit as the cramp from earlier returned, but chatting with other competitors during the run lifted my spirits and I felt right at home running through the mountains.

Up next was a short bike ride, before I reached my kayak and eagerly jumped in to sit down and rest my legs. I was now about 6 hours in, and my partner informed me that I was within the top 10 competitors. However, this proved to be the most challenging leg for me as I was inexperienced with kayaking compared to other competitors. I fell out several times and was passed by multiple competitors, clocking in at almost five and a half hours by the end of the kayak run.

Although I felt a little gutted, seeing my crew at the checkpoint and fuelling up on some food gave me a boost. I dug deep to motivate myself for the final 70km road bike leg and got emotional as I neared the finish line reflecting on how tough the day had been – but how proud I was of myself for completing it. Crossing the finish line was a natural high I had never experienced before, and I wrapped up with a time of 13:54:14. Although I had hoped for better, just finishing put a smile across my face for days.

How has being active helped with your mental health?

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing keeping an active and healthy lifestyle has benefited my mental and physical well-being. Just under 2 years ago I finally realised that a lot of negative experiences in my life were due to excess alcohol consumption. I went out partying a lot and liked to be social, but sometimes wouldn’t know when to stop and that’s when I ran into trouble.

I decided to shift my energy into running and gradually gave up drinking. The actual activity of running is a great place to gather thoughts and clear your head. I’ve started to feel like the best version of myself, which has benefited me and those around me, while also allowing me to think more clearly too.

What do you recommend for someone just starting out?

Running is a great start to a journey of self-fulfilment and mental clarity, not to mention physical fitness. For anyone starting out, I would recommend building up the distance and pace over time and allowing your body to adjust. Do this for a few weeks, maybe 3-4 times a week or whatever you can make work – even if it's just for 20-30 minutes. It becomes easier once you develop the habit and that’s when you can really have fun challenging yourself to see what you're really capable of.

It was great to see you rocking the Iconic Mo on your kit – why do you think the Movember message is so important?

During the Coast to Coast I got multiple comments on the Movember kit, which was a great conversation starter. Movember is important to me because it’s a global community that really highlights the issues men face every day. I feel like Movember is starting to move beyond being just a single month-of-the-year event though. It’s a great cause all year round and if we as a community can help even just one person live a better life - then it’s a success in my eyes!

BOC is an incredible Mo Bro, inspiring and helping so many kiwi men in his community - we cannot wait to see where his journey takes him next.

Support Ben’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.