What makes a Coaster?
To be a true West Coater you gotta be at least 5 generations born and bred right? Or is it the tough go-get’em Coaster attitude?
Proud Turiwhate resident Katie Smith embodies the West Coast spirit, even if she arrived less than a decade ago.
She has a very strong handle on The Coast’s hardworking quietly spoken vernacular. It is this humble coined attitude, keenness to harness new skills and adventurous spirit which makes her such a brilliant role model for other women looking to get into mountain running or adventure sport.
From Swaziland to New Zealand via the Oxford-Cambridge rowing regatta
Growing up between Swaziland, Scotland and South Africa, Katie always had a keen eye for adventure. This saw her compete in the Oxford - Cambridge rowing regatta and take up the modern pentathlon, because when else do you get the opportunity to learn show jumping, pistol shooting, running, swimming and fencing? Some pretty badarse skills to acquire.
After relocating to New Zealand Katie’s hunger for new adventures saw her learn pack rafting, whitewater kayaking and mountain biking from friends and housemates. With her new found skills it wasn’t long before the West Coast looked like a wonderful option to call home with its plethora of fantastic lakes, rivers, mountain runs and back country hikes.
Home on the Coast
Katie serves the West Coast community as a medical doctor. Her diverse skills means there is always an adventure to be had. A leg injury would just mean more time in the kayak, a flooded river just means running in the bush clad valleys. She knows that any time someone supports crews for her it is an opportunity to return the favour.
Katie speaks highly of the West Coasters friendly and genuine nature. She is quick to pass on her knowledge about the packrafting adventures and the MTB trails like the The Paparoa Great Walk and Old Ghost Road to new people to the sport. She is not as quick to mention, and very humble when she does, her team’s category win at the 2018 Godzone, and win this year’s Spring Challenge. Coming off her 2nd place in the NZ Trail Championships (just ahead of Mel Aitken, who served on the West Coast as our first female police area commander) Katie has potentially qualified herself for the NZ team at the World Championships. And what a representative she would be!
A niggly ankle means Katie will be support crewing a friend at this year’s Coast to Coast, an opportunity she is every bit as excited for. The 2021 edition of the Coast to Coast will feature many strong West Coast women, age grade NZ MTB champion Em Wilson will bring some pace to the field, the Greymouth High School women’s team will be back to defend their crown also Jenna Williams, Hannah Yeats, Mikayla Sweetman, local legends Lynette O’Conner, Paulette Birchfield and many others. So whether 5 years or 5 generations, it’s resilience and nuggetiness that make these women true champions and true Coasters.
Katie is an active member of Wild Things having contributed a plethora of amazing West Coast mountain runs to the trail directory. See all the great West Coast runs here.