The Kathmandu Coast to Coast longest day World Championship field is shaping up as the most competitive ever in the event’s 33 year history.
In the men’s race Wanaka athlete and three time winner Braden Currie is lining up next month after taking a year off to pursue his Olympic dream setting up a mouth-watering battle with last year’s winner Sam Clark, Australian multi-sport athlete Alex Hunt who was third last year, Whakatane’s Daniel Jones, two-time Australian Olympian Courtney Atkinson and a number of other strong athletes that include Sam Goodall, Andrew Sclater and Sam Manson.
Clark, who was second, just minutes behind three-time defending champion Braden Currie in 2015, put in a blistering run over Goat Pass last year to grab the lead and never looked back, winning by over 50 minutes. He is conscious next month’s one day field looks stronger but that is only providing more motivation to back up to make it two wins in a row.
"There is much stronger field for 2017,” Clark said. “The winner will be the fittest, fastest and best prepared athlete. I'm leaving no stone unturned to make sure I get to New Brighton first."
Women’s one day defending champion and three time winner Elina Ussher will have first time Coast to Coast competitor South African Robyn Owen to contend with. Owen (nee Kime), has won the prestigious Dusi Canoe Marathon on the East Coast of South Africa five times, has represented South Africa at World Champion level in canoeing, mountain running and adventure racing and has been in good recent form which has included a win in South Africa’s prestigious mountain running event, the 42 kilometre Otter Trail, where she set a new course record in October last year.
Ussher caught French athlete Myriam Guillot-Boisset in the kayak section last year to claim the lead she held to the finish after overcoming severe leg cramps during the run.
“It will be my eleventh Coast to Coast, however, I’m really looking forward to racing again,” Ussher said. “To me it still doesn’t feel like I have quite completely completed the challenge, there is still some unfinished business there. It seems like the field will be really strong this year and that is going to create some super exciting and close racing all the way from Kumara beach to New Brighton.”
Other women who have entered the one day event and should feature are Fiona Dowling from Alexandra, triathlete Hannah Wells, who has turned her attention to off road events and Corrine Smit, who was lying third in last year’s race when she broke her rudder in her kayak.
Event director Richard Ussher is very happy with the quality of the field and the amount of entries which are well up on this time last year. There has also been a significant increase in interest in the event from overseas, with more international athletes entered than ever before.
“The whole event is just going to look amazing,” he said. “Kathmandu have invested huge amounts of time and effort which is making a real difference. The depth and standard of the entries across both the one and two day events at this stage is outstanding and it’s great to see our increased efforts at attracting overseas competitors having an impact. It’s shaping up as the best event ever with a world class international field.”
Entries officially close this Sunday, January 15, after which there is a late penalty fee added to the standard entry fees.