Jess Simson is a 'star in the making'
Coast to Coast race guru Robin Judkins has hailed a multisport star in the making after Wanaka's Jess Simson shattered the women's two-day race record at her first attempt on Saturday.
The 23-year-old former Wellingtonian - competing in only her second multisport event - beat Hamilton's Shanel Cornille after consolidating her overnight lead.
Simson blitzed her rivals to win in 12hr 48min 11sec, shaving more than 11min off Anne Woodley's previous record mark set in 1997 over a shorter course.
"She's an absolute star in the making," Judkins said.
"She's such a great mountain runner. She's got the most amazing attitude and she seems to do it with ease."
Simson may tackle the Longest Day one-day race next year but was happy to stick to the two-dayer this time around.
"At no point out there did I ever wish I was doing the one-day. I was actually feeling quite joyous for doing the two-day."
Simson said her victory would give her great confidence.
"I just want to keep learning and accelerating. I'm quite committed to the cause of advancing in multisport."
The Department of Conservation ranger has already done three adventure races in China and said her only rough moment on Saturday was "in the last hour of the kayak [on the 67km Waimakariri River stage] when I ran out of nutrition.
"But after five minutes on the bike, I was back to normal again. I've got a saying that ‘what goes down must come up'," she quipped.
Simson paid tribute to her "lone ranger support team" - her husband Hazen Simson, who organised all her transition changes and "even lifted me out of the kayak even though he had a bad back and I said he didn't have to".
Meanwhile, the West Coast has its first two-day men's race winner in the event's 31-year history.
Greymouth chiropractor Seamus Meikle was the first individual runner home at Sumner Beach, taking the overall title by about 29min ahead of second-placed Mitch Munro, of Christchurch, and William Sams, of Waikato.
The 27-year-old, originally from Waiuku, was the overnight leader and made no race of it on the Waimakariri River kayak section and the 70km cycle ride to Christchurch.
Sams, a 23-year-old first-time Coast to Coaster and Otago physical education graduate, was second overnight. But Munro, a 24-year-old builder, had a strong second day on the river and the bike to go past Sams and push Christchurch's Josh Harris, who was third overnight, out of the minor placings.
Meikle, who was 10th in the Longest Day one-day event last year, said it was a great thrill to win a title for the West Coast and his first Coast to Coast crown.
He may re-enter the one-day race next year.
"I was going to do it this time but I got sick overseas at the end of last year, so I was worried about crapping my pants during the race," he said.
"It wouldn't be a very good look."
Meikle said he was still not fully recovered from a stomach bug he contracted at an adventure race in China.