New generation of champions farewell Judkins

16:00, Feb 16 2014
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SORTING IT: Preparation for this year's Coast to Coast gets underway. Robin Judkins putting up a radio repeater on Mount Rosa.
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BIRD'S EYE: Preparation for this year's Coast to Coast gets underway. Robin Judkins organising his last event.
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GEARING UP: Preparing for the Coast to Coast - family Dad Paul Nichols, (L) twin sisters Anabelle and Gracie (R).
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ROARING START: Robin Judkins race organiser on the horn for the start of the race.
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MIST: Cycling from Kumara to Deception Bridge.
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THE PACK: Coast to Coast. Cycling Taipo River bridge.
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LIGHT RELIEF: John Acker on the accordian entertains Coast to Coast competitors near Kumara.
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HEADING FOR HIGH GROUND: Kristin McNaughton entering Deception River to start the mountain run.
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AIMING FOR DECEPTION: Athletes making their way toward Deception River at the bridge.
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INTO THE SOG: Graham Nielson (L) starts the mountain run.
Fiona Dowling
BALANCING ACT: Fiona Dowling enters Deception River.
Feeling the burn on Goat Passf
HEAVY CLOUD: Feeling the burn on Goat Pass.
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KEEPING ON: Miserable weather on Goat Pass.
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ROCK CLIMB: Coast to Coast. Running through Deception River.
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QUICK GUZZLE: Coast to Coast competitor on Goat Pass.
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HOOFING IT: Joanna Williams first woman up Goat Pass in the Coast to Coast.
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GO BRENDON GO: Brendon Vercoe first, two day individual into Klondyke.
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SCENIC PASS: A lone figure heading over Goat Pass.
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PEDALING: Shaun Portegys on the bike leg.
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HELPING HAND: Competitors help each other out at the start of the mountain run.
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HANDS IN THE AIR: Toni Hancock (front) at start of the mountain run.
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HEADING UP: Threading a way up the Deception River.
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POWERING: Fiona Dowling (individual) heading towards the Deception Bridge from Kumara.
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SPLASH: Nathan Facer on the mountain run at Deception Bridge.
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IN STRIDE: Rex De Ryke charges across the river at Deception Bridge.
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NEON SHOES: Paul Massie in the Deception River.
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EARLY START: Coast to Coast Individual One Day event Robin Judkins gives the start signal.
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RACE ON: Richard Ussher (L) cycling from Kumara in the Coast to Coast Individual One Day event.
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GRINDING: Braden Currie (foreground) on the first cycle leg in the Coast to Coast Individual One Day event.
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BOULDERS: Jess Simson Upper Deception River, Coast to Coast One Day Event.
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NEGOTIATING: Elina Ussher Upper Deception River, Coast to Coast.
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CLIMB: Braden Currie Upper Deception River, Coast to Coast.
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GO MIKE: Coast to Coast - Michael O'Brien in the Upper Deception.
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CROSSING: Coast to Coast One Day, Nick Crocker crossing at Deception River Bridge.
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WAIT: Coast to Coast. Waiting for the start of the Longest Day at Kumara Beach.
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OPEN SPACE: Coast to Coast. Jess Simson cycling from Klondyke corner to Mount White Bridge.
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FLYING: Coast to Coast - Elina Ussher leaving Mount White Bridge.
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PADDLE TIME: Coast to Coast Jess Simson setting off in Kayak from Mount White Bridge.
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TRANSITION: Coast to Coast One Day. Richard Ussher coming in to end of Kayak section at Waimakariri Gorge Bridge.
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WAIMAK: Coast to Coast One Day. Braden Currie coming in to end of Kayak section at Waimakariri Gorge Bridge.
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HITTING THE BEACH: Finish of the annual Speights Coast to Coast Race at Sumner Beach. Winner of the two day individual event, Brendon Vercoe, hits the finish.
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GOT YOU DAD: Finish of the annual Speights Coast to Coast Race at Sumner Beach. Winner of the One Day race was Braden Currie. Braden's son, Tarn, 5, was with dad at the finish line.
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LOAD OFF: Finish of the annual Speights Coast to Coast Race at Sumner Beach. Winner of the Women's One Day race was an exhausted Jesse Simson.
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ELATION: Finish of the annual Speights Coast to Coast Race at Sumner Beach. Winner of the One Day race was Braden Currie. Braden's son, Tarn, 5, was with dad at the finish line.
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BRO'S: Finish of the annual Speights Coast to Coast Race at Sumner Beach. One Day winner, Braden Currie, left, congratulates his brother, Glen, who placed third.

As Robin Judkins bowed out after 32 years with the Coast to Coast, a new generation of champions emerged at Sumner Beach on Saturday.

During the past decade, Richard and Elina Ussher, Gordon Walker, Emily Miazga, Kristina Anglem and Sophie Hart have carved out a special chapter in the Coast to Coast, winning multiple Longest Day titles.

A fresh era is dawning after Methven-raised Braden Currie, who now lives in Wanaka, made it back-to-back Longest Day triumphs.

Braden Currie
SHARING THE MOMENT: Coast to Coast winner Braden Currie heads to the finish line at Sumner Beach with his five-year-old son Tarn.

The 27-year-old again produced a blistering performance in the 33km mountain run over Goat Pass, arriving at Klondyke Corner with a 21-minute lead over his rivals, which he never surrendered. His mountain run time of 2hr 49min 56sec was one of the quickest in the history of the event, rivalling 1994 winner Keith Murray.

Currie finished the 243km race in 11hr 18min 37sec, 21 minutes ahead of five-time champion Richard Ussher, who The Press can reveal will take over from Judkins as race director.

It was a golden day for the Currie family, with Braden's elder brother Glen third.

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Wellington's Jess Simson, 29, who now lives in Wanaka, announced herself as a rising star last year, shattering the women's two-day individual record.

In her first year competing in the Longest Day, she produced a consistent race on Saturday, surviving a fightback from Elina Ussher on the kayak to cross the finish line with a 14-minute advantage.

Coast to Coast founder Judkins, who has been race director since the inaugural version in 1983, said a new breed of athletes were beginning to shine through.

"Braden and Jess are the new ones. Jess is so determined. She's at that age where nothing is going to stop her. Braden is exactly the same. They will also attract lots of other people to have a go against them."

Currie was in a league of his own in the men's race, sticking to his strategy of going hard on the mountain run and never relenting. Ussher, a noted kayaker, managed to trim his lead down to 17min as he got out of the kayak at the Waimakariri Gorge, but that was as close as he got.

Only four men have previously managed to defend their Longest Day crowns, and Currie said it was a huge milestone for him.

"Back-to-back wins. I don't believe it. I just had a really great day out there and nothing really went wrong.

"I felt good the whole way through the run and I knew I had a good solid lead."

Ussher was full of praise for Currie and said his outstanding mountain run was always going to make it difficult to peg him back.

"I wasn't really firing. Full credit to Braden, what a phenomenal day he must have had. That run was unbelievable. I gave it everything I had."

Simson's victory was extra sweet after she made the bold decision to resign from her job as a Department of Conservation ranger after winning last year's two-day race to concentrate on being a fulltime athlete.

"It's true testament to if you put your mind to something it will happen. It's like ‘Wow, what they tell you at primary school is true'," she said.

Simson credited her coach Matty Graham, who has worked with her since last May, as a key ingredient to her success.

Christchurch-based physiotherapist Brendon Vercoe retained his overnight lead in the two-day men's individual race to win his first title in 12hr 49min 26sec - 17 minutes clear of fellow Cantabrian Byron Munro.

Irish native Fiona Dowling held on to her overnight advantage to win the women's two-day individual crown in 13.57.15.

Christchurch duo Paul Massie and Robert Loveridge, who are veterans of the Coast to Coast, were popular victors in the two-day teams race. Tania Leslie, Stevo Porter and Scott Ronald had the quickest two-day three person team time with 13.29.38.

AT A GLANCE

Men's individual Longest Day: 1. Braden Currie (Wanaka) 11.18.37; 2. Richard Ussher (Nelson) 11.39.19; 3. Glen Currie (Methven) 11.57.29; 4. Sam Manson (Wairoa) 12.06.04; 5. Trevor Voyce (Nelson) 12.07.38.

Women's individual Longest Day: 1. Jess Simson (Wanaka) 13.12.24; 2. Elina Ussher (Nelson) 13.26.10; 3. Anyika Thomsen (Waipukurau) 13.54.49; 4. Emily Wilson (Cambridge) 14.24.08; 5. Annabel Ramsay (Wellington) 14.28.08.

Men's two-day individual: 1. Brendon Vercoe (Chch) 12.49.26; 2. Byron Munro (Chch) 13.06.59; 3. Daniel Murtagh (Chch) 13.09.12; 4. Rob Nesbitt (Methven) 13.21.07; 5. Dean Hudson (Hunterville) 13.41.10.

Women's two-day individual: 1. Fiona Dowling (Ireland) 13.57.15; 2. Hilary Totty (Chch) 14.34.44; 3. Hollie Woodhouse (Chch) 14.50.27; 4. Laura Thomas (Chch) 14.51.47; 5. Anna Jenkins (United Kingdom) 15.01.51.

The Press