A full field for the first time in a decade and some impressive performances matched the stunning conditions on the first day of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast as the two day event got underway.
The recent wild weather was soon forgotten as competitors ran off Serpentine Beach near Kumara on the South Island’s West Coast early this morning.
Five riders got away on the 55 kilometre cycling section and worked well together until a gravel section 10 kilometres from Aikens saw the group reduced to three with Christchurch's Sam Horgan and Nelson's Keegan Hornblow’s time of one hour 35 minutes for the short run and cycle leg eclipsing Ross Bush’s 33 year old team’s record for the two day event by one minute.
Bush was a well-known Christchurch cyclist that was killed in the city’s 2011 earthquakes.
“We worked really well together once we got away on the first bike leg, we just put our heads down and went to work,” Hogan said.
After entering the mountain run with Team Neapolitan’s Quinn Hornblow Horgan’s TopSport team mate Daniel Jones pressed ahead on the mountain run to cross the line first in Klondyke to give their three person mixed team an impressive lead of 49 minutes over Team Neapolitan who lie second.
Jones, who was ninth in last year’s World Championship Longest Day and completed five years in the United States on an athletics scholarship, ran the 33 kilometres Mingha Deception route in a time of two hours and 44 minutes. He has his sights set on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 10,000 metres.
“It sets us up for an exciting day tomorrow,” Jones said. “We’ll definitely push it again and see what happens.”
After breaking his leg 18 months ago Queenstown hiking guide Tony Phillips leads the individual two day event after a storming run over Goat Pass that left him with a four minute lead over Oliver Thompson going into tomorrow’s short 15 kilometre cycle, 67 kilometre kayak and final 70 kilometre cycle leg to New Brighton in Christchurch.
Phillips, who works as a Guide Manager at the Trojan-owned Ultimate Hikes New Zealand, was in the large second cycle bunch that rolled into Aikens to start the mountain run after four team riders that included elite cyclists Horgan and Reon Park and individual Gavin Mason, got away to build their commanding lead.
Phillips had his work cut out as he trailed Mason by six minutes heading into the mountain run, but his three hour 33 minute effort set’s him up well for a strong second day tomorrow.
2011 New Zealand Triathlon champion Florence Van Dyke finished the first day in the lead of the individual women’s two day event with a lead of five minutes and eight seconds over Jennifer Walker. Walker holds an impressive 43 minute lead over third placed Rachel Baker.
Greymouth High School proved to be local heroes as the young trio of Martin McDonald, Max Rubbo and Ben Williams finished the first day on top of the three person men’s competition with a 17 minute lead over Team Ruahine.
First and last out’s Ryan Kiesanowski and Nathan Peterson have a four minute 44 second lead over Team Thule NZ’s Hamish Fleming and Samuel Goodall in the two person men’s team while Edge Team’s Morgan Ahu and Kathryn Bunckenberg lead the mixed two day team’s event from Scrambled Legs Connie Dick and Todd Marwick.
Kim Marshall, Kaitine Hewitt and Rebecca Wilson of Did you say Run hold a 15 minute lead over Team Stuffed’s Olivia Caldwell, Suzanne Black and Deanna McKay in the women’s three person teams event.
Loughlinn Kennedy won the men’s mountain run event in a time of three hours and 16 minutes beating Bevan Jefferies by 13 minutes while Steph Marshall was first home in the women’s mountain run in a time of four hours and 29 minutes with Sally Wood coming second 33 minutes behind.
In the tandem competition the Pecka Heads team of Ashley Christie and Josh Payne hold a 33 minute lead over Aradale Year 11 boys Finn Durrant and Connor Craig, while Team Crap’s Shannon Proffit and Leah Barnfield have a 49 minute advantage over TKR’s Tamsin Chittock and Katarina Nicholson and Grimmett and Hamish MacKay from FLOORTJE lead WD Thinkings Lachlan Boyle and Emma Hutchings by 32 minutes.
The World Championship Longest Day event gets under way at 6am tomorrow from Serpentine Beach near Kumara south of Greymouth where Whakatane’s Sam Clark will be looking to take top honours in the men’s event for the third straight year and Elina Ussher will seek a record equalling fifth title.
Ussher will have to face a number of strong women including late entry, two time champion and three-time adventure racing world champion Sophie Hart, last year’s runner up South African Robyn Owen who was leading the race into the final bike leg before being over hauled by Ussher and Christchurch based German Simone Maier who last raced in the event in in 2015 when she was second.
Former world champion kayaker and Olympian Teneal Hatton, Whakatane’s Corrine O'Donnell, 2016 women’s two day winner Anna Barret, Rotorua's Jessica Dean who won her first race in December, the Rotorua Half Ironman, after taking a year off following knee surgery and Hart complete a very strong women’s field.
Leading Australian multi-sport athletes Alex Hunt and James Pretto and Kiwi Bobby Dean loom as Clark’s biggest challenges.