Bell leading two-day individual race
Christchurch's Nathan Bell is leading the Coast to Coast men's two-day individual race after a brilliant mountain run over Goat Pass today.
Bell, a 21-year-old builder, has a 50-second lead over Mark Beesley, a 50-year-old company director from Rotorua, with Nathan Jones of Woodend third, six minutes, 51 seconds behind Bell.
However Bell gives himself little chance of holding his lead tomorrow after taking a tumble on a flat section of the mountain run.
He stumbled on a rock and fell on his hands on sharp rocks. He took large chunks of skin out of both palms which will make it very difficult for the 67km leg through the Waimakariri Gorge.
Bell, who has dabbled in white water kayaking, said he would have given himself little chance of holding the lead even before the tumble.
The women's two-day race is almost as close with 20-year-old Toni Keeling of Auckland leading by two minutes, 26 seconds over Christchurch's Koleighne Ford.
Another 15 minutes behind Ford is Shanel Cornille of Hamilton in third place.
The leading men's team is Trevor Voyce (Nelson) and Matt Blundell (Australia) who have a 16-minute lead over their nearest rivals, Steve McKinstry (Auckland) and Daniel Busch (Nelson).
Bell only moved into multisport racing this summer and yesterday was his first venture into the Coast to Coast but he has had a long-held interest in the event.
As a youngster he followed the fortunes of his father who was a regular competitor.
Now the baton has been handed to Bell and he showed exceptional talent for the event at his first outing.
He overhauled about a dozen competitors on the mountain run and finished with the third fastest time for that section of the race behind two team runners who did not have to do the 55km first cycling leg.
After media interviews today Bell said his first priority was to find the medical tent to see what they could do for his hands to allow him to start tomorrow.
Like Bell, Keeling's interest in the race was sparked by family. Her mother Christine Keeling has been a regular competitor and was seventh woman in the one-day race last year.
Her father Peter has also been a competitor "but just for fun'', Keeling said.
She said she was hoping she can hold on to her lead on the second day.
Men: Nathan Bell (Christchurch) 5hr 1min 16sec 1, Mark Beesley (Rotorua) 5:12:06 2, Nathan Jones (Woodend) 5:18:07 3, Rodney Baldock (Stratford) 5:20:18, 4, John Michael (Leeston) 5:30:13 5, Marcel van Reenen (Kumara) 5:31.52 6.
Women: Toni Keeling (North Shore) 6:22:40 1, Koleighne Ford (Christchurch) 6:25:06 2, Shanel Cornille (Hamilton) 6:40:28 3.
Teams: Men: Trevor Voyce (Nelson) and Matt Blundell (Australia) 4:44:10 1, Steve McKinstry (Auckland) and Daniel Busch (Nelson) 5:00:10 2, David Reid and Lawrence Harper (Whakatane) 5:18:26 3.
Women: Simone Maier (Germany) and Ginny Rutledge (Wanaka) 6:28:16 1, Kelsee Hamilton (Hokitika) and Nakia Randle (Alexandra) 6:31:44 2.