Impressive Winners Light Up Day 1 at Coast to Coast
Impressive Winners Light Up Day 1 at Speight’s Coast to Coast
Wanaka’s Jessica Simpson announced her arrival on the multisport scene with a record-breaking opening day in the Speight’s Coast to Coast.
Almost 500 participants from 21 countries went to the start line on the West Coast’s Kumara Beach this morning for the Two Day race. More than 100 will toe the line again on Saturday for the One Day World Championship race. But after a staggering first day Jessica Simpson left onlookers wondering what might have happened if she had entered tomorrows world championship race.
In perfect conditions Simpson led the women’s two day race from start to finish, finishing the day in fifth place overall after a women’s Two-Day individual mountain run record of 3hrs 40min, a time clipped 1min 55secs off the 25 year old record of 1988 winner Claire Parkes (Nels).
The 28 year Department of Conservation concessions manager finished the opening 55k cycle among the top dozen men, but was closely followed by Hamilton’s Shanelle Cornille. But once running she romped away on the 34k run over Goat Pass to finish the day with a 42 minute lead.
The Wellington-born Coast to Coast rookie was a box of birds after her record breaking day. “It’s all so new to me,” she said. “All I was just trying to do my own race and see how it went.
“I’ve never done much bunch cycling before, so when our bunch got quite big I just tried to stay safe. I had only been over the run once in training and even though I thought I knew it pretty well, you get out there in the excitement of the race and you don’t know where the hell you’re going.
“It was awesome though. A perfect day and I felt good. But now I have to think about tomorrow.”
Seamus Meikle is also thinking about tomorrow. After a dominant first day the 27 year chiropractor set himself up to be the latest Greymouth resident to roll out of bed and win the race that starts on his own back door.
Meikle was part of a five man break away on the opening cycle section. Clocking a slick 1hr 39min for the 55k ride they missed the course record by a scant minute. Starting the mountain run he was closely followed by Hamilton’s Will Sams and Christchurch’s Josh Harris. Like Simpson in the women’s race, however, once the running started Meikle took control.
He would eventually reach Klondyke Corner at Arthur’s Pass 18 minutes clear of Sams and 26min clear of third place Mitch Munro from Christchurch, although the Waiuku-born leader admitted later, “ I was just running my own race and honestly didn’t realise too much who was around me.
“The conditions were pretty fast so I just concentrated on taking the right short cuts and keeping the pace up.”
Meikle, who finished 10th last year in the world championship One Day race, was less confident about tomorrows 15k cycle, 67k kayak and 70k cycle to the finish line at Sumner Beach in Christchurch.
“Normally, I’d say my strength is kayaking,” he said. “But after today maybe I’m a runner. I’m probably not as fit in the kayak as I was last year, but you don’t really know until you get out there.”
The teams competition was also clear cut after Steve McKinstry took over from Forrest Wines teammate Dan Busch in fifth place and ran through the field to reach Klondyke Corner in first.
McKinstry, who has previously won the Two day Individual and team races and holds the team record for the final cycle, clocked the day’s fastest run at 3hrs 50secs to give him and Busch a 12min buffer to start day two.
Team Thule’s Adam Milne and Nathan Smith trailed by 12 minutes, with early leaders, Team Icebreaker of Matt Blundell, Martin Cox and Tom Davidson, another three minutes back.
McKinstry and Busch are the defending champions and with Busch being one of the best kayakers in the sport, they are unlikely to be challenged.
Also unlikely to be challenged are leading womens team, Wendy Riach (ChCh) and Kelsee Hamilton (Hoki), and home-grown mixed team leaders, Neil and Helen Gillespie, also from Hokitika. The husband and wife pair established a 12 minute lead over the all-star mixed trio of former Olympic rowers Sam Earle and Nathan Twaddle and three-time Speight’s Coast to Coast champion Emily Miazga and are unlikely to lose it tomorrow.
The world’s longest running multisport race also featured something new today with the introduction of a solo mountain run option. Hanmer Springs Nick Hirschfeld was first among men in a slick 3hrs 10min 42secs, while Wellington’s Genevieve Stark was first woman in 4hrs 05min 23secs.
An even happier finisher was newly appointed cabinet minister, Nicki Kaye, who was all smiles as she finished the first half of her debut Speight’s Coast to Coast in just over nine hours.
It’ll be all smiles again tomorrow with perfect racing conditions expected again for the completion of the Two Day event and the feature One Day world title race.
The men’s race is expected to be a three-way battle between five-time champion Richard Ussher and the pretenders to his throne, Dougal Allan and Braden Currie (both Wanaka) , who were second and third behind Ussher last year.
The women’s race is a head to head between 2010 and 2012 winner Elina Ussher and 2011 winner Sophie Hart (both from Nelson).
Forecasts predict a northwest tail wind from the West Coast over Goat Pass to the Waimakariri River, so early racing is expected to be fast. But an easterly headwind as they hit the Canterbury Plains could turn the final few hours into a race of attrition. But whatever happens it’ll be a great day for the multisport meccas of Nelson and Wanaka.