Ussher to Defend Lake to Lighthouse Title
World-class multisport athlete, Richard Ussher will defend his title at the Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse this weekend.
Nelson-based Ussher and wife Elina are both defending champions at this event and are favourites for the two-day race, covering 184kms of stunning surrounds from Lake Waikaremoana to Wairoa.
The Lake to Lighthouse event was devised by the Wairoa Community Trust, one of a number of initiatives to show case the beauty of the region as well as develop opportunities for the local community and businesses.
Ussher, who had a busy October, firstly winning the Motu Challenge and then placing 11th at the XTERRA World Triathlon Championships, said he is looking forward to tackling the course again this year.
“Looking back on last year – the overwhelming memory is as much of the experience as it was the race. It was a fantastic all-round event with the local community involvement at Tuai Village. It was a special event and such a cool place to go and race. I’m looking forward to heading back there.”
He takes on 2004 Coast to Coast champion and last years Lake to Lighthouse second place-getter, George Christison, the local Hawkes Bay multisporter will however be heading into the race a little tired having just finished in second place at the World Adventure Racing Championships as part of Team Nike last weekend.
In contrast, Ussher’s last few weeks have been fairly low-key.
“November has been a recovery month really, so I will defiantly be coming into this event fresh rather than over done – but I’m looking forward to it.”
Ussher believes the experience he gained by racing last year will play into his hands this year.
“Knowing the course will be a massive advantage – particularly the pacing over that run leg on the first day. The second day is a bit different – probably a bit more painful on the legs with that longer run leg but I’m looking forward to it – it will be a great race.”
The race starts from the village of Tuai on Friday with a 15km mountain bike to Hone Bay and a 14km kayak across Lake Waikaremoana to Hopuruahine Landing. Then begins two run legs totaling 46kms around the Lake Waikaremoana track, which is rated as one of the greatest walks in the world.
It includes the 800m climb over the Panekiri Range which offers remarkable views of the region. There is a short 6km mountain bike back to Tuai village to complete the first day.
Day two starts with a 23km mountain bike, followed by a 43km road cycle to the Wairoa River where participants grab their kayaks and travel 21km towards Wairoa. The final leg of this epic adventure is a 16km run, with participants finishing at the historic Wairoa Lighthouse.
Ussher knows from experience it will not be a stroll in the park.
“It’s not often we get to do a 45km run around a track and over a range! There’s nothing particular gnarly in it but it is very long. I am quite excited to be able to go back to such a stunning part of New Zealand to race.
In the women’s field Elina Ussher will be the overwhelming favourite but is likely to be chased hard by Head to Head record holder Louise Mark and European Adventure Racer, Sia Svendsen.
There’s $39,000 of prize money up for grabs in the Genesis Lake to Lighthouse event which makes it the richest multisport event in this country.
For a full
list of race particpants please see the following