Nelson athletes Trevor Voyce and Richard Ussher battled hard - and very, very long - for supremacy in the first day of the Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse Challenge.
Voyce returned to the start-finish in Tuai some 18 minutes ahead of Ussher, after dropping him two thirds of the way through the epic 46 km run around Lake Waikaremoana.
“When the rubberband snapped there was nothing left,” Ussher reckoned afterwards.
“But that’s racing," he said.
While he’s leading comfortably, Voyce was cautious. Tomorrow there’s a difficult mountain bike, a solid cycle, a heavy paddle down the Wairoa river, and a final 16 km run to complete. If anyone’s capable of overturning a solid defecit, it’s reigning Coast to Coast champion Ussher.
But if school teacher Voyce does hang on tomorrow, he’ll be the first non-Ussher to win the individual category of Lake to Lighthouse, ever. Both Richard and wife Elina have won three apiece.
Team’s racing was dominated by the young pairing of John Gray and Sam Clark, who together beat Voyce back to the Tuai finish by about 10 minutes. The only hiccup was at the last transition where Gray came off the run to find he'd beaten his crew and his mountain bike wasn’t there.
He quickly borrowed a bike, and tore down the hill without issue. “I like it. I think I might get a 29er,” he quipped.
While the men’s racing has seen a real upset, the women’s racing has a familiar leader: Elina Ussher.
She’s over an hour ahead of Camilia Nicolau, a New Zealand-based Brazilian; Helen Chittenden (another Nelsonian), and Rachel Cashin of Taumarunui.
This has been the harshest weather yet in the race, with a mix of squalls, hail, and sunny weather. The kayak especially proved testing for some, with a number of competitors falling out, and failing to finish.
"The weather has been quite exciting!" Elina Ussher said.
The Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse Challenge saw a number of options today, with both duathlon and shorter multisport races for teams and individuals; as well as a 46 km ultramarathon taking in the Waikaremoana Great Walk.