Richard Ussher claims fourth Coast to Coast
The Speight's Coast to Coast proved a Nelson double with Richard Ussher and Sophie Hart taking the men's and women's crowns - and both threatening the endurace multisport race records.
Hart, a 27-year-old doctor at Nelson's emergency department, spoiled an Ussher family double by denying Richard's wife Elina her second consecutive Coast to Coast title.
Richard Ussher was just under seven minutes outside Keith Murray's almost unassailable one-day record of 10 hours 34 minutes 37 second set in 1994, while Hart was only a minute short of the women's mark achieved by Murray's wife Andrea in 1997.
Both Ussher, who finished in 10 hours, 41 minutes 12 seconds, and Hart, whose 12 hours 10 minutes 31 seconds, attributed the fast times to "near perfect conditions", with Ussher describing them as "almost once-in-a-lifetime" after enjoying a welcome tail-wind on the usually notoriously tough cycle route across the Canterbury Plains.
He was "stoked" to win his fourth title in his first Coast to Coast since his 2008 triumph. But the result was never in doubt.
With Ussher leading after the 33km mountain run stage and increased his advantage down the 67km kayak stretch on a wind-swept Waimakariri River.
Wanaka's Dougal Allan, who described Ussher as "world class", was second in 10:55:59, with Methven teacher Glen Currie third in 11:07:10.
Elina Ussher led the women's field by five minutes after the mountain run but lost ground on the kayak leg to Hart after taking a wrong channel.
Hart contended she "didn't think I had another 5km in me on the bike" but she proved her tenacity to win by 8 minutes 55 seconds from Ussher. Canadian Emily Miazga, a three-time race winner as recent as 2009, was third, 22 minutes 54 seconds behind Hart.
New Zealand mountain running representative James Coubrough (Lower Hutt) consolidated his overnight lead to win the men's two-day race. The 29-year-old builder set a new race record on teh first day by being the first individual athlete to beat a team runner home on the mountain run stage to Klondyke Corner.
Christchurch's Hayley Shearer, 38, who last won a Coast to Coast title with her mother in the veteran teams class a decade ago, triumphed in the women's two-day race after also leading the field overnight.
Race director Robin Judkins, 61, got a huge cheer as he lurched over the finish line in the two-day teams race where he and team-mate Steve Gurney, the nine-time Coast to Coast champion, finished 11th in the veteran men's category in 19:02:52.
Judkins, who rode the final cycle stage, laughed that he had passed two other riders but then admitted they had punctures and had both passed him later in the race. He was soon back in his usual capacity, handing out cans of the sponsor's product to finishers in the one-day event.
Results from the Coast to Coast multisport race today:
Men: Richard Ussher (Nelson) 10h hours 41 minutes 12 seconds 1, Dougal Allan (Wanaka) 10:55.59 2, Glen Currie (Methven) 11:07.10 3, Carl Bevins (Christchurch) 11:0919 4, Sam Clark (Whakatane) 11:16.46 5.
Women: Sophie Hart (Nelson) 12 hours 10 minutes 31 seconds 1, Elina Ussher (Finland) 12:19.27 2, Emily Miazga (Canada) 12:33.25 3, Louise Mark (Waitakere) 12:56.15 4, Rachel Cashin (Taumarunui) 12:56.52 5.
Men: James Coubrough (Lower Hutt) 11 hours 25 minutes 02 seconds 1, Dan Moore (Wellington) 10:51.46 2, Paul Avery (Stratford) 12:30.03 3, Scott Hawker (Christchurch) 12:31.21 4, Dean Ford (Wellington) 12:34.36 5.
Women: Hayley Shearer (Christchurch) 13 hours 53 minutes 13 seconds 1, Olivia Faull (Christchurch) 14:00.24 2, Louise Hales (Wellington) 14:21.37 3, Kate Myers (Christchurch) 14:24.53 4, Summa Goodall (Leeston) 14:28.07 5.