By the time Coast to Coast winner Jess Simson finished the 240km slog across South Island, everything but her eyelids hurt.
The Wellington-born women's winner said she fought leg cramps and a heaving stomach to take out the South Island endurance race.
Crossing the finishing line at Sumner beach, Christchurch, nearly 14 minutes ahead of her nearest challenger, she collapsed, exhausted, on the sand and had to be carried to the medical tent by her husband, Hazen Simson.
"My legs were in a state of spasm.
"It was not until I got out of the kayak and on the bike for the (final 70km) ride in to Christchurch that the cramping stopped," she said.
Poor hydration and food intake before the race could have been to blame, she said, something she hoped to fix when she defended her first one-day title next year.
"Everything but my eyelids hurt today."
Simpson finished the 240km bike, run and kayak event from Kumara on the West Coast to Sumner Beach in 13 hours and 12 minutes.
She said she was vomiting and cramping for 11 of those hours.
Men's winner Braden Currie and Simson, neighbours in Wanaka, both emphatically stamped their winning ways on the race, outpacing their nearest competitor.
This was the first time she had competed in the one-day event after last year breaking the two-day Coast to Coast record in only her second multisport race.
Simson said the most difficult moments of the race occurred while getting into her kayak for the five hour 67km paddle down the Waimakariri River. "The river being low was actually my lifesaver. I could barely paddle. I was in survival mode. You can't control the boat when the rapids hit you if your legs are not working."
Simson was raised in Wellington's eastern suburbs and educated at St Mary's College and Victoria University. She now lives and works in Wanaka as a professional athlete.
Her next adventure will be in China, where she plans to compete in the week-long Wenzhou Adventure Challenge.
- The Dominion Post
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