Sophie's born to run, cycle and kayak fast

Last updated 09:23 14/02/2013
Sophie Hart
WINNING SMILE: Sophie Hart, winner of the 2013 Coast to Coast Longest Day multisport race.

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Nelson athlete Sophie Hart had a big day out last Saturday winning the Coast to Coast Longest Day multisport race that traverses the South Island.

The 29-year-old GP regained the title she won in 2010 from last year's winner Elina Ussher by more than 35 minutes, completing the 243km journey in 12hr 36min 19sec. Sophie is also a member of the Seagate team that won the Adventure Racing World Champs in France last year and is preparing to defend its title in Costa Rica this year.

She talked to The Leader about her life as a multisport athlete and adventure racer.

How many hours each week do you spend training when you are building up to something like the Coast to Coast?

Usually about 15 to 20 hours. There were some bigger 25-hour weeks when we drive down to the course and go for a paddle. Then you back that up with another 20-hour week so you get pretty tired after that.

And you're working too.

Yes. Lately I've been working about 25 hours a week but it varies. I can work up to 40 hours a week although I cut that back in summer so I can train. My employers at Harley Street Medical have been great.

Do you have any time between work and training to relax and read a book or watch television?

The week before a race when the taper is under way, I usually get a bit of couch time in.

Do you have a favourite book or author?

Born to Run. It's written by an American journo who reads about some Mexican tribesmen who are amazing runners.

He lives and works in the modern world and is trying to run and keeps getting plagued by injuries, so he looks at Mexican runners why they are so good and finds out they run for fun and in bare feet - it's a cool little book.

What's the best advice you have ever been given?

There's too much to single out but Nathan [Fa'avae] has given me some really good advice on racing. He persuaded me to move to Nelson for my racing which was good advice.

What is one thing a lot of people don't know about you?

I'm not worth being around before a morning coffee which I haven't had yet. When I was in South America cycle touring with four friends, if I didn't have a coffee with breakfast I'd really struggle so my friend Shane would always be the first one up making me coffee in the morning as a preventative measure. It didn't take long for him to figure it out.

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Who is your role model?

Kristina Anglem. When I first got into multisport she was the best around winning the Coast to Coast and world champs. I've always looked up to her. A couple of years ago when I did the Coast to Coast she rang me up beforehand, we had a really good chat - it really helped my mental game and helped me get my head around things.

What do you eat before a big race?

Coffee and honey on toast.

Have you ever had any close calls racing?

Yep. I've had a few bike crashes. I had a good one in Idaho. We were riding in the middle of the night on a narrow track and we were going pretty fast and my handlebars hit a tree and swung them around and I somersaulted into a tree myself.

Ouch. Speaking of being really tired in races, adventure racers often hallucinate when they are exhausted and sleep-deprived. What sort of things have you hallucinated about?

I haven't had that many because we manage it pretty well. If someone is getting really tired we stop for a power nap. But there was this race I was doing in Cairns and I basically fell asleep on my feet. We were walking along in the outback and I was stepping over these imaginary bike wheels - I was convinced that they were scattered all through this forest. It was pretty weird. I was in La La land, then I suddenly snapped out of it.

How much longer do you hope to combine competing in top level multisports and also working as a doctor?

Until I stop enjoying it.

What do you have lined up next in terms of multisport and adventure racing?

The Godzone Adventure Race in Queenstown and the world champs in Costa Rica.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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