Multiple winners of the Speight’s Coast to Coast are among the champions being invited back for the 30th anniversary event next February.
Nine times winner Steve Gurney from Christchurch and five times winner Kathy Lynch from Hokitika head up a list of champions invited to either “participate or spectate” by Race Director Robin Judkins, himself celebrating 30 years at the helm of the iconic 243k kayaking, mountain running and cycling race across New Zealand’s South Island.
“In the 29 years of the Speight’s Coast to Coast there have been 500 champions from the 26 different sections," says Judkins.
“As well as the feature Longest Day World Champions, the list includes people such as Olympic canoeing silver medallist, Ben Fouhy, who won the mens team section with world mountain running champion Jonathan Wyatt in 2005. It would be really great to get champions such as them back again, because they are still racing at a world class level.”
Judkins says there are some real characters among the champions, such as Doug Lomax from Te Anau, who won six different titles, and Sharron Prutton from Sumner, who won five consecutive veteran women’s Longest Day titles in the early 1990s.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing these all these champions together again, celebrating their glory days,” says Judkins. “Most are still very active, so there are bound to be more than a few on the Kumara Beach start line.”
Canadian Tom Barichello, who competed in the first event in 1983, is returning to compete against inaugural champion Dr Joe Sheriff. Living now in Southland, Sheriff was from Scotland when he was the surprise winner of the inaugural event ahead of mountaineering legend Graeme Dingle, who Judkins also hopes to entice back.
In the 29 years since 1983 over 16,000 Kiwis and 2000 internationals have participated in the Speight’s Coast to Coast. The 30th anniversary event will be held on the 10 and 11 of February, 2012, with the famous Kumara Beach to Sumner Beach route remaining unchanged despite the Christchurch earthquake.