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Juddy’s Top 10 Predictions

Juddy’s Top 10 Predictions

Robin Judkins has spent more than three decades organising New Zealand’s favourite race. The Speight’s Coast to Coast created adventure sports and most of the world’s best have cut their teeth in the 243k world multisport championship race across New Zealand’s South Island. Judkins has watched them all and his annual “Top 10” predictions have become something of a book-maker’s must-have come race day.

“Richard Ussher is the favourite,” states Judkins without a hint of hesitation. “He’s the five-time champion and he’s the most experienced contender.”

Judkins is right. If Richard Ussher can recapture the form that won him the Speight’s Coast to Coast in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011, 2012, he will be hard to beat. But Judkins also warns against Coast to Coast complacency, saying, “Richard learned that the hard way in 2007,”

“He had won the two previous years, but in 2007 Gordon Walker from Auckland turned the race upside down by attacking right from the start. That’s something we could see again this year.”

Certainly Wanaka’s Dougal Allan will be looking to shake things up. The 27 year old has been runner-up to Richard Ussher for the last three years and his strongest discipline is cycling.

“Last year Dougal and Richard really broke the race open on the first cycle,” says Judkins. “Richard then broke Dougal on the run, so perhaps Dougal feels he’ll need to push the opening cycle even harder this year.”

Others expected to challenge include Braden Currie, also from Wanaka, who was third last year and even finished ahead of Ussher at the Xterra Off Road Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii late last year.

Watch out too for Nelson’s Trevor Voyce (2nd in 2009, 6th in 2010), Queenstown’s Bernard Robinson (seventh in 2012), Christchurch’s JJ Wilson (eighth in 2012) and Auckland’s James Kuegler (8th in 2011). Cantabrians Nathan Jones and Nathan Bell, who finished first and second in last year’s Two Day race, are stepping up to the feature One Day race this year where Jones has previously finished in the top 10. Picton’s Dan Moore , who finished second in 2011 Two Day race, will also be keen following a DNF in 2012 with an eye infection.

Australian surf Ironman legend Guy Andrews, who finished fourth back in 2004, is now aged 42 but still a contender in every race he enters. Judkins however, warns to watch for dark horses Luke Vaughan (Chch) and Sam Clark (Whakatane).

“Sam is one of the young guns,” says Judkins. “He didn’t race last year, but he won the Two Day race in 2009 when he was just 19 and was fifth in the One Day in 2011. So you’d expect him to be even stronger this time.”

“Luke, on the other hand, is making something of a comeback. He was a young gun almost 10 years ago when he won the Two Day race in 2005 at age 20. He hasn’t raced the One Day race since 2009 when he finished fourth, but he won the teams race in 2010 and 2011 so he’s still right on top of his form and even at age 28 is one of the most experienced guys around.”

Judkins is delighted with the onslaught of up and coming youngsters. “It’s great that the champions like Richard Ussher cannot sit on their laurels and it shows that multisport isn’t just the domain of old mountain goats.”

“Competitively, the Speight’s Coast to Coast is moving into a new era,” he says. “Richard Ussher is the last guy standing from the era when people like Steve Gurney were winning.”

“We saw it in the 2011 women’s race too, where Elina Ussher was the favourite but was beaten by Sophie Hart. Sophie didn’t enter in 2012 when Elina won, but they’re both back this year’s so their rematch could be the race of the day.”

In contrast to the men, the women’s race is a case of veterans wanting to prove a point against the youngster. Of contenders, only Sophie Hart and Brazilian Camila Nicolau (6th in 2012, 8th in 2011) are younger than 30.

As well as Elina Ussher (36), they will face Auckland’s Louise Mark (35, 2nd in 2010 and 4th in 2011), Taumarunui’s Rachel Cashin (41, 3rd in five of the last eight years), Christchurch-based Swede Sia Svendsen (35, two-time winner of the teams event) and Hokitika’s Tanya Maitland (34, 7th in 2012, 9th in 2011).

“Elina and Sophie are definitely the favourites,” says Judkins. “Elina will have the motivation of repeating the husband and wife with Richard. But Sophie will be wanting to show that her win in 2011 wasn’t a fluke. It’s going to be a cracker.”

The 31st Speight’s Coast to Coast is scheduled for February 8-9. Racing starts on Kumara Beach, midway between Hokitika and Greymouth, and finishes 243k later on Sumner Beach in Christchurch.

The feature Multisport World Championship is contested on Saturday February 9, with almost 150 entrants taking on the 3k run, 55k road cycle, 34k mountain run, 15k cycle, 67k white water kayak and 70k cycle in one day.

The Two Day race starts on February 8 with the cycle and mountain run, then concludes on February 9 with the cycle, kayak and cycle sections.

The event has attracted more than 620 entrants for what is the longest running multisport race in the world.

“Last year we had 522 participants,” says Judkins. “This year we’re sitting at 623 and entries are still coming in. That’s an increase of 19 percent, so I’m thrilled. We’re climbing out of the recession.”


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