Ussher back and hungry for more success
Ussher, who has competed only once before, in 2010 in a time of 8:34:41, said he decided he needed to return to compete in the race before he "faded out".
"I'm super excited to be back at Challenge. The one other time I competed here I had a really good race and I always wanted to come back," he said.
Ussher has won the Coast to Coast multisport race five times and said he would use his 15 years of endurance racing experience as an advantage.
However, the past training year had not got off to an ideal start.
"Last summer I went too hard and was pushed over a cliff and had to have forced recovery time," he said.
"However, the last few months I feel like I'm firing all cylinders again," he said.
His swim leg will be his weak point but "I've done what I can to improve that and we'll see how we go on the day," he said.
Competition is set to be rife, with defending champion Dylan McNeice not prepared to let go of the title without a fight.
"I'm going to have to be a little bit aggressive. I want to race this every year. I want to make this my race," he said.
McNeice said last year's win had given him the much-needed boost to stay in the sport.
"This time last year I was thinking of throwing in the towel," he said."I'm enjoying it more now. It's a tough sport and for a while I wasn't enjoying it much.
"I'm really looking forward to getting out there and racing."
Wanaka hopeful Dougal Allan said his advantage was having experience of the course.
"I know every wind gust and every tree root along the course," he said.
The race would be a "chasing race" for him, the type he enjoyed, and "I'll definitely be doing a bit of that after the swim," he said.
United States hopeful Scott DeFilippis said, "it's a pretty hard course. The bike course makes it pretty tough. "The best triathlete is going to win."
- The Southland Times