Paratriathlete Shaz Dagg is not afraid of a challenge and now she has her eyes on becoming the first female amputee to complete the Coast to Coast.
Feilding-based Dagg is New Zealand’s first elite para-triathlete, winning silver medals at the Paratriathlon World Cup and Oceania Championships. She took up the sport after losing her left arm above the elbow, following a farming accident in 2016.
Last year Dagg’s focus was on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, which she successfully qualified for. However, after they were postponed, Dagg’s focus shifted to the Coast to Coast, New Zealand’s toughest multisport competition, being held on 12 - 13 February.
Dagg was guest speaker at UCOL’s 2020 Staff Welcome Day and staff were amazed by her story. Her resilience, determination and positive attitude are the same attributes that inspire many students, so UCOL decided to support Dagg with her next challenge, the Coast to Coast.
The relationship with UCOL has helped cover some of the costs of entry, so Dagg and her crew can take part. UCOL Applied Science Lecturer Bob Stewart analysed Dagg’s diet and provided nutritional advice, while UCOL staff also created Dagg’s Limit-It-Less official team logo.
“It’s an incredible opportunity that UCOL is helping me achieve, and has taken so much pressure away. I feel very supported and lucky to have this chance,” says Dagg.
“I want to be the first female amputee to complete the race. Why would you not take that challenge on? That said, it’s more about encouraging people to get out there and be active, to show people what they can achieve. I may be missing a wing but I can adapt.”
Dagg will be competing in the two-day version of the race, with Palmerston North’s Brett Garrett paddling with her in the kayaking stage. Event organisers ruled that Dagg had to have someone in the kayak with her for safety. Garrett is a veteran of four Coast to Coasts, and was happy to jump in when Dagg called him.
So, how do you learn to kayak with one hand? Dagg’s the first to admit that learning to kayak has been her biggest training challenge. She had never done it before and needed to figure out a way to keep hold of the paddle. Garrett and Peke Waihanga Artificial Limb Service came up with a solution.
“The Artificial Limb Service has been a great support and made a nifty socket to connect to my arm. Brett, who works for a plumbing company, then made a device out of some pipe, a couple of washers, and some hose clamps to keep the paddle connect to me. It’s great Kiwi ingenuity!
“I really didn’t know if I would be able to kayak, but there was no way I wasn’t going to try it.”
The 243km Coast to Coast race sees competitors run, cycle and kayak from Kumara Beach on the South Island’s West Coast to Christchurch’s New Brighton Beach.