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Miazga Motivated for More

Miazga Motivated for More

Emily Miazga won’t be getting must rest over Christmas. After a frustrating year the former multisport world champion is back in training, determined to retain her world title at the Speight’s Coast to Coast.

Every time she heads out to train Emily Miazga has the memory of her disastrous year for motivation. In the build up to the 2010 Speight’s Coast to Coast the three-time champion had been odds-on favourite. But two weeks out from the 243k race across the South Island Miazga badly sprained an ankle while training on the mountain run course. Short on training and in pain, she limped through the race to fourth place, almost an hour behind winner Elina Ussher.

It’s been a long road back. The ankle problem eventually required surgery to reconstruct a lateral ligament and tidy up some cartilage. But by early December Miazga was fit enough for her first recce of the famous Speight’s Coast to Course route when she went over the 36k mountain run and 67k kayak on consecutive days.

Miazga’s comeback couldn’t be better timed. The 29th Speight’s Coast to Coast is being billed as the “Year of the Veteran”. At 36 she will contest the race for the eighth time. The Canadian broke through internationally with third place in the 2004 and 2005, and then never went home, winning the race three times as well as settling on the South Island’s West Coast where she runs her successful business, Em’s Power Cookies. But her competition is similarly experienced.

Miazga’s arch rival, Elina Ussher, may have won her first Speight’s Coast to Coast only last year but the Finnish-born Nelson resident is now a four-time veteran of the event. Taumarunui’s Rachel Cashin has twice finished third (2007,2008) and will be 39 on race day. Christchurch athletes Fleur Pawsey and Sia Svenden will also be tough. Swedish-born Svendsen has a best of only 11th from 2008, but she has won the Two Day Teams race in 2007 and 2010. Her 2010 teammate was Pawsey, and both could have a strong impact on the One Day race.

The advantage of age and experience has been a strong trend among winners in the Speight’s Coast to Coast. Historical standouts such as six-time winner Kathy Lynch and four-time winner Jill Westenra won on their first attempt, but were already well into their 30s and had represented New Zealand in other endurance sports. Other champions, such as Fleur Pawsey (2007) and Kristina Anglem (2004, 2005) were also-rans in their early years before coming back to dominate.

Indeed, in the history of the event the only exception has been 1994’s freak performance by Christchurch rookie Andrea Murray. Murray, the wife of men’s record holder Keith Murray utilised her husband’s experience, perfect weather and stiff competition from Kathy Lynch to put up a course record of 9hrs 09min 26secs that still stands today.

The 29th Speight’s Coast to Coast is scheduled for February 11-12, 2011. More than 800 entries from all over the world are expected on the start line.


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