Sophie Hart's prescription for a second win
A second Speight's Coast to Coast win was just what Nelson doctor Sophie Hart ordered and she reckoned yesterday's victory was as sweet as her first.
The 29-year-old GP regained the title she won in 2010 from last year's winner Elina Ussher by more than 35 minutes yesterday.
Hart, who did not enter last year, was "pretty stoked" to win because "Elina's such a tough competitor" and there had been "a bit of pre-race talk about it being a battle between me and her".
"I think there was a bit of pressure. I couldn't really hide so much as I did last time."
Hart had a bit of chain trouble on the first bike leg from Kumara to Aickens on the West Coast.
"But a good friend of mine from Nelson, David Ayre, stopped and helped me get my chain back on and helped pull me back up to the bunch, so it didn't cost me any time at all.
"I was pretty grateful to him, I think I owe him a beer."
Hart, a world adventure racing champion with a proven reputation as a paddler, said she "expected Elina to catch me" on the mountain run yesterday.
"I would have been happy to come off behind Elina."
But Hart ran the 33km stage more than 11 minutes faster than Ussher and both athletes undoubtedly knew the race was over once she hit the Waimakariri River kayak transition with such a commanding lead, although Hart said it was "so early in the day, I wasn't going to rest back".
But Ussher, who won last year with husband Richard (the first Coast to Coast couple to do so), knew it was "going to be a long day" at that point.
"I just wasn't on today," Ussher said. "I was really trying, but I just didn't have the legs today.
"The first cycle was OK.[But] Sophie got away at the start of the run. She cycled in running shoes and I had to change into running shoes.
"I was trying to stay close [on the run] but I just didn't have any legs. I finished the run, thinking ‘it's going to be a long day'.
"I was sorry I couldn't make it more interesting."
Hart won the women's section (and was 15th) overall in 12hr 36min 19sec with Ussher second on 13hr 11min 49sec. Ailsa Rollinson, a 27-year-old lifeguard and swim instructor from Wanaka, was third in 13hr 46min 37sec.