Speight’s Coast to Coast Longest Day 2008
Saturday 9 February 2008
Ussher wins Speight’s Coast to Coast Longest Day
Richard Ussher has taken out the top spot in the Speight’s Coast to Coast ‘Longest Day’ one-day competition with a time of 11hr:03min:54sec. Ussher finished with a convincing lead over last year’s winner, Gordon Walker who came in at second place after 11hr:24min:01sec. Considering both Ussher and Walker’s extensive multisport experience both competitors were favourites for the first place spot. Dick Brunton, an educational trainer for the DARE program, came in third at Sumner Beach.
“My whole plan during the run was to take it really easy until Goat Pass then really try to hammer it out,” says Ussher. “If you’re a good runner, not only can you run a good time but you get off a little fresher. It’s down-time really.”
“When you’re in the lead you don’t get any information at all, you can never really relax,” says Ussher. “I think for the only time in my entire Speight’s Coast to Coast career I enjoyed that last bike ride.”
Walker, who placed second, bet his last year’s Longest Day time by 15 minutes and 29 seconds and conceded that he was “just beaten by a better man.”
“Ussher is the best adventure racer in the world by a long shot, he’s a hard man to beat,” says Walker. “He eased away and was under control, he had a faultless race. I’m happy with my times but made a couple of mistakes in the paddle which were heartbreaker’s – I just had to keep going.”
In what is traditionally a slow build up to the mountain run, the first cycle leg saw the top six males breakaway within the first 30km’s – Richard Ussher, Gordon Walker, Greg Taylor, Mark Pschebizin, Jacob Roberts and Thomas Pettersson. The next cycle pack followed four minutes behind and included female ‘Longest Day’ top picks Emily Miazga, Rachel Cashin and Jeannie Bomford. What is normally a sedate, pacey ride had quickly turned into a race.
Gordon Blythen missed the leading breakaway in the first cycle leg and was 10 minutes down in the run after losing his water pack and having to retrieve it. Blythen has consistently placed in the top four over past years coming second in last year’s one day competition.
Despite initial concerns, Steve Gurney noted that the lower-than-usual river level meant half-way times were over 15 minutes faster than in previous years, helping competitors’ monster the water-components of the mountain run. However, this time was lost for some entrants during the kayak leg where low river levels caused delay. Overall the low water did not have a severe impact on the race.
Ussher kicked off the kayaking leg at Mt White, paddling into the Waimariki at 11:10am. The race which is usually fairly close at this stage was already starting to show large gaps with Gordon Walker and Kevin Osbourne trailing at 11:21am and 11:27am respectively.
At the beginning of the kayak leg, the female Longest Day field was dominated by Anna Berthelesen, Jeannie Bomford, last year’s winner Fleur Pawsey and Emily Miazga. Despite a cycle puncture within the first 15km’s of the race, Elina Ussher had managed to gain on the lead female pack and arrived at Mt White in fifth place, followed by Sarah Fairmaid.
Emily Miazga of Canada, winner of the Speight’s Coast to Coast female Longest Day crossed the finish line at Sumner with a time of 13hr:18min:02sec. Miazga had spent the majority of the race in the top three, separating herself from the pack after the kayak leg and going on to take out first place. This is Miazga’s second win, having taken the title previously in 2006. Last year’s winner Fleur Pawsey finished 44 seconds behind Miazga; 2 minutes and 2 seconds behind Pawsey was Rachel Cashin taking third place.
One-day competitors set off
from Kumara Beach on the West Coast at 6am this morning.
Over the entire day they covered 254km’s including 140km’s of cycling, 36km’s of mountain running and 67km’s kayaking.
Speight’s Coast to Coast 2008 two-day competition
After crossing the half-way mark in second place at Klondyke Corner yesterday, Dougal Allan has taken away first place in the Speight’s Coast to Coast 2008 two-day Open Men’s event.
This was Dougal’s first time entering the Speight’s Coast to Coast, winning the two-day race with a time of 12hr:10min:21sec. Dougal was followed closely by Mike Walker (12hr:13min:50sec) and Ryan Thompson (12hr:18min:55sec).
The women’s two-day race was taken out by Kath Kelly who also arrived at Klondyke Corner in second place on Friday. Kath finished with a time of 13hr:44min:59sec. Rachel Ockelford (14hr:02min:37sec) and Katherine Allan (14hr:14min:35sec) came in second and third place respectively.
Results by Placing
1. Richard Ussher Nelson
2. Gordon Walker Auckland
3. Dick Brunton Christchurch
1. Emily Miazga Canada
2. Fleur Pawsey Wellington
3. Rachel Cashin Taumarunui
1. Dougal Allan Foxton
2. Mike Walker Invercargill
3. Ryan Thompson Rangiora
1. Kath Kelly Roxborough
2. Rachel Ockelford Wellington
3. Katherine Allan Wellington