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The Moehau Multisport Festival continued to attract large fields in their 13th year. It also continued to throw up new talent for the year ahead.
A decade ago the Moehau Man was the first multisport race for 2011 Speight’s Coast to Coast winner, Sophie Hart. This year it was just the second major win for a man that many are picking to be a contender for the 2012 Speight’s Coast to Coast.
High winds greeted starters in the feature multisport event, with more than a few water rescues being needed in the opening 14k kayak on the Firth of Thames. Wellington’s James Coubrough, however, needed no such assistance.
The Lower Hutt builder was first off the water at Waitete Bay in a fast 1hr 10min 48secs, but was pushed hard by Auckland’s Andrew Mowlem just 20 seconds back, while fellow Aucklander Sam Goodall trailed another 1min 40secs further back.
While Mowlem would fall away in the following 22k mountain bike section to Waikawau Bay, Goodall matched Coubrough to start the following 18k bush run just over two minutes adrift in second place. The big surprise on the mountain bike, however, had been Swiss star Matthias Nystrom.
Nystrom is currently in New Zealand training for February’s Speight’s Coast to Coast with compatriot Simon Niemi. Both struggled to cope with the rough kayak conditions, with Nystrom losing 14 minutes and Niemi 19 minutes. But on the mountain bike section Nystrom clocked 50min 04secs to move into fourth place at the start of the run.
Once running, however, no one was going to match James Coubrough. The New Zealand mountain running representative was in his element, striding away to record fastest time of 53min 32secs.
It is Coubrough’s fast running and solid kayaking that will make him a danger man in his first shot at the One Day World Championship at this year’s Speight’s Coast to Coast. A series of injuries has seen the run specialist take to multisport in recent years, with his first major race being a win in the Speight’s Coast to Coast Two Day event last year.
Starting the final 18k mountain bike ride over Tokatea Hill back to Coromandel, Coubrough had 13 minutes in hand, which allowed him the luxury of cruising this final section to win as he liked in 3hrs 42min 15secs.
Behind Coubrough, Sam Goodall had the fastest final mountain bike to finish exactly 12min behind Coubrough. Seven minutes further back Matthias Nystrom moved past Andrew Mowlem during the final mountain bike section to claim third place by just 75 seconds.
In the Women’s race 2010 Speight’s Coast to Coast runner-up Louise Mark trailed Cambridge’s Emily Wilson through the kayak section by 2min 35secs. But Mark moved through the field during the mountain bike and the two women started the run side by side. From here Mark proved too strong, running away to a six minute lead and then adding another two minutes on the final mountain bike to finish eight minutes clear of Wilson in 4hrs 45min 08secs.
The veteran’s multisport category was a much tighter affair. Thames’ Darren Donnelly lead from start to finish, establishing a four minute lead on the opening kayak section and adding another minute on the following mountain bike section. But on the run and final mountain bike Dargaville’s Graeme Ewerson fought back to almost catch Donnelly on the approach to the Coromandel finish line. But Donnelly responded and the gap at the finish was just one minute with Donnelly winning in 4hrs 14min 14secs as the two vets filled fifth and sixth places overall.
The multisport teams section was of note for the repeat win of defending team champions Patterson Plus of Wayne and Aaron Patterson and Aidan Campbell from Mount Maunganui, who clocked in at 3hrs 59min 53secs to win by almost quarter of an hour.
Moehau Off Road Tri
This year’s rough sea conditions forced a reduced swim, with triathlon participants swimming only 800m instead of the usual 1500m. This didn’t affect Hamilton’s Scott Thorne, who overcame a 45sec deficit to Warkworth’s Tom Andrews after the swim to eventually win in 2hrs 37min 38secs, almost 20 minutes in front of Tauranga’s Chris Morrissey.
The women’s race was similarly one-sided, with Rotorua’s Pip Tuckey leading from start to finish to win by 40 minutes in 3hrs 36min 54secs.
The triathlon team racing was somewhat closer, with just three minutes separating first and second. But the winning team, A Few Good Men of John Dakin, Jim Fitzsimmons, Mike Prentice and Simon Palmer from Auckland, led from start to finish after Dakin put up the day’s fastest swim. Their eventual winning time being 3hrs 03min 44secs.
The Duathlon option also saw clear winners in Hamilton’s Neil Parkinson and Piopio’s Julia McCracken, who both won the mountain bike, run and mountain bike event by more than 10min in 2hrs 41min and 3hrs 38min 40secs respectively.
The impressive duathlon performance on the day, however, came from Sweden’s almost 60 year old Erik Ahlstrom. The man credited with introducing multisport and adventure racing to his country claimed fourth in 3hrs 15min 42secs.
The duathlon teams race was won by Thames siblings Greg and Luke Hampton in 3hrs 07min 22secs.
The Moehau multisport festival was the first event established by Adventure Racing Coromandel back in 2000. Other popular events include the ARC Adventure Race on March 17 to 18, the K2 Cycle Classic on October 27 and the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run on November 17. Their events benefit the Spirit of Coromandel, a charitable Trust set up to support and encourage young people into outdoor activities.