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Coast to Coast Top Ten Picks plus wild cards!

For Immediate Release
29 January 2008

Speight’s Coast to Coast Top Ten Picks plus wild cards!

With the Speight’s Coast to Coast just around the corner, Race Director Robin Judkins has picked his top ten competitors in the Men’s and Women’s open sections of this year’s World Multisport Championship – the one day event.

“It was easy to pick this year because so many of the top competitors are returning,” says Judkins. “Having said that of course I could be completely off the mark – so I’ve included a couple of dark horses!”

Judkins believes that the open men’s section, for competitors under 40-years, will be dominated by last year’s winner Gordon Walker from Auckland. Richard Ussher, 2005 and 2006 champion from Nelson will also take away a top ten place.

Two more picks include perennial top ten placers Gordon Blythen from Wanaka and Dick Brunton from Christchurch. Blythen, who at 43 years old should be a veteran, has opted to do the open section; as has Brunton. Both are chasing the $10,000 first prize and both have finished in the top three in previous events. The best internationals are likely to be Guy Andrews and Luke Haines, both from Australia. Guy has placed in the top ten twice before and Luke is the current Mars Challenge Multisport Champion in Australia.

Jacob Roberts, a 34-year-old fitter and turner from Christchurch is the first of the dark horses. Roberts has competed twice before, in 1997 and 2007, and is considered by Canterbury multisporter's to be top ten material.

Endurance Sports Coach Cameron Carter of Christchurch is back again after competing in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He will step up to the challenge alongside Sam Goodall, a 23-year-old kayak instructor from Whangaporoa competing for the third consecutive time.

The last of Judkin’s top ten Men’s picks is 39-year-old Glenn McLeay, a jeweller from Invercargill. McLeay describes himself as ‘a former Olympic cyclist gone mad’ and could be well matched by Frederik Jacques, a 30-year-old fund administrator from Belgium. Jacques holds the world record for swimming the English Channel breaststroke. Giving these two competitors a run for their money is Andrew Nicholson, a 37-year-old teacher from Mt Maunganui who represented New Zealand as an Olympic speed-skater and is competing in his third Speight’s Coast to Coast.

The Women’s section will be a three-way race between last year’s champion Fleur Pawsey, a 28-year-old policy advisor in Wellington competing for her eighth time, 2006 champion Emily Miazga from Canada who had to pull out of the mountain running section last year, and Elina Ussher from Finland. Elina is married to Richard Ussher and placed fifth last year.

Sarah Fairmaid placed second last year and is back again to give first place a go, according to Judkins. She’ll find a rival in 36-year-old Rachel Cashin from Taumarunui who declared that “last year was the last” while Sarah calls for “just one last time.” Emily Miazga considers both of these women to provide some serious competition.

Suzette Nicholson, who came ninth in 2007, is back this year stating that “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” This 33-year-old primatologist from Lower Hutt will be fighting for a top ten place against Anna Berthelsen, a marine biologist from Northland; Jeannie Bomford a professional athlete from South Africa; Mitch Murdoch a massage therapist from Queenstown; and Sia Svendsen from Denmark. Mitch is competing for her third time while Sia is back on her second attempt.

“It is very hard to restrict the top women to just ten, because athletes such as Sophie Hart of Ohope and Katrina Lawton, a fire-fighter from Rotorua, are just superb,” Judkins comments.

The 2008 Speight’s Coast to Coast competitors will journey from Kumara Beach to Sumner Beach on February 8th and 9th, with the one day race taking place on Saturday 9th.


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