Race News Sunday 14th February 2016
Photoscourtesy of Marathon-Photos.com
Sam Clark backed up his pre-race confidence to run away from the field to claim his first Coast to Coast men’s World Championship longest day title yesterday.
Clark, who was second behind three-time defending champion Braden Currie last year, went into the 33 kilometre mountain run with 15 leaders after the first 55 kilometre cycle leg, but was quick to put the hammer down to blast over Goat Pass in under three hours to head into the short cycle and 67 kilometre kayak leg with a 23 minute lead.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It really is a great feeling. Only those that know me well can actually appreciate just how long and how much I wanted this. It’s quite overwhelming to finally tick that box and finally call myself a Coast to Coast champion.”
Clark was a convincing winner in 11 hours 37 minutes 7 seconds, coming home over 50 minutes ahead of Coast to Coast veteran 42 year old Bob McLachlan who was racing the event for the first time in twenty five years.
McLachlan said he exceeded his hopes of making the top 10 with his 12 hours 29 minutes effort which saw him overtake Australian Alex Hunt during the kayak leg.
With Currie not racing as he is focused on qualifying for this year’s Rio Olympics in triathlon Clark was the favourite, something he embraced in the lead up as he made it clear he planned on leading from the front and being the man to beat as competitors tackled the 234 kilometre route from Kumara Beach on the West Coast to New Brighton Beach in Christchurch.
“This is the performance I wish I had last year,” Clark said. “That the way things panned out, fortune said I’d come back and here I am and I’ve finally done it.”
Clark dominated the mountain run saying it was his plan all along to come off the bike and have a ‘lightning fast’ transition and get away before his other competitors even noticed he had gone. “Once you get around a couple of corners, it really is a big advantage because they don’t know where you are.”
Hunt, racing in his first Coast to Coast, held on for third finishing four minutes behind McLachlan.
Nelson’s Elina Ussher won her third women’s longest day title in 13 hours, 32 minutes after catching Myriam Guillot-Boisset from France in the second half of the race.
Ussher overcame severe leg cramps during the run saying she had to ‘stay mentally tough’ and work through the pain and not think about it and just keep pushing on.
“It wasn’t a very easy day for me but I’m very happy to win today,” Ussher said. “I really felt quite bad after the run but I knew I just had to race my own race and keep it going.”
Guillot-Boisset held a four and a half minute lead after the mountain run but Ussher proved to be the better paddler catching her an hour into the kayak to win by six minutes.
Hayden Wilde, 18, made it a double header day for Whakatane athletes holding onto his overnight lead in the two-day men’s individual event to win in a time of 12:18:47 from Gerard Morrison and Peter Olds.
Anna Barrett from Mt Maunganui’s also retained her advantage from the first day in the women’s two day individual event to comfortably hold off Isla Smith and Natalie Jakobs, winning in 13 hours and 45 minutes.
Aranui High School students Taitama Tukaki, 16, and Bryce Adamson, 15, completed the two day tandem teams race in a time of 17hours, eight minutes with teams mates nine-time Coast to Coast winner Steve Gurney, three-time winner Emily Miazga and world champion adventure racer Nathan Fa’avae.