Four time winner of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast Longest Day World Championship women’s race Elina Ussher is lining up for her fourteenth race in a row, just as motivated and excited as she was in 2006.
Ussher is still one of world’s best adventure and multi-sport athletes and the Finnish-born Nelson resident and former Adventure Racing World Champion has not missed a Coast to Coast since her 2006 debut when she came second to Canadian turned Kiwi Emily Miazga.
The 42 year old says she is looking forward to racing and challenging her limits again on the 9th of February when the one day event starts off on Kumara beach on the South Island’s West Coast and heads over the Southern Alps and down the Waimakariri River to finish at New Brighton in Christchurch.
She was the first of the leading female contenders to enter this year for February’s 2019 race. Heading into this year’s event had the added challenge of running a new business with husband and five time winner of the men’s one day event and former race Director Richard Ussher, leaving her a little unhappy with the race result.
“We started the new business on the 21st of December 2017 and we had all the extra stress as new business owners so my preparation was not as good with so much going on and I didn’t feel very good on the day, so I really want to try and do some things better leading into 2019 event. I’m really hoping to be able to have an enjoyable build up and a great race day out there.”
Ussher thinks finishing in top three is a realistic goal and the focus on having a great day does not mean she has to win her fifth title.
“In a race like the Coast to Coast everything needs to go perfectly to have a great result” Ussher said. “It would be awesome to have that feeling that I don’t have anything left at the finish, and that I couldn’t have done anything more. Just having that feeling will mean I had a good build up and I’m happy with how I managed to race on the day.”
Ussher has won many of the world’s top multi-sport and adventure races, including the Adventure Racing World Championships and the Abu Dhabi Adventure Racing Challenge, an event were she was part of the winning team four times alongside husband Richard, but the race across the South Island holds a special place in her heart.
“The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is the Multisport World Championship so winning means that you have achieved the biggest possible individual title in multisport as Adventure Racing is team racing and team work. You race as a team with three great individual athletes and celebrate your result as a team rather than an individual.”
“It’s a big change now that Richard is not that involved in training and racing any more as he is really busy with running our new Cable Bay Adventure Park business,” Ussher said. “As it is our own business I still have the opportunity to work less and focus more on my training and racing when needed but it’s fair to say I sometimes miss those days when we were both pro athletes as I now sometimes feel almost a little lonely without Richard being involved in multisport much at all.”
A trip home to Finland during the New Zealand winter also saw some adventure racing in China, a chance for the former competitive cross country skier to learn alpine downhill skiing and she added weight training to her training programme for the first time.
“Traveling to China for some team adventure racing was a full on trip as I did 24 hour race, a two day mountain bike stage race, a three hour multisport race and a four day stage race all in two weeks. The whole trip was just an unforgettable experience including racing with a new team and new team mates from Hungary, Czech Republic and Sweden - it was once in the life time experience.”
Ussher says her biggest challenge to winning another Coast title are the growing number of young strong girls capable of running away from her. “The competition is always hard with so many young talented girls that go so well now and at age 42 I’m not a hundred percent sure what I can get out of myself even if everything goes perfectly well.'”
“This year’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast sounds like it’s going to be a huge event. I still love what I do and I still like to challenge myself and the Coast to Coast is the biggest multi-sport event in the world it’s here in New Zealand so I feel privileged to still have the opportunity to compete and to be a part of the great event. It’s a stunning race course and the views never disappoint you.”
Ussher was also keen to support Glen Currie who took the Race Director’s leadership reigns off her husband Richard after this year’s event.
“I really want to support Glen in his first year running the event and it also means I’ve competed in the event with all three Race Directors, Robin Judkins, Richard and now Glen, and that’s pretty cool.”
Currie is happy to have Ussher racing again next year clearly remembering her first words to husband Richard when she crossed the finish line this year being, “Can I race again next year”?
“Elina is arguably one of world’s most successful female endurance racers, with multiple wins in the Kathmandu Coast to Coast, as well as a number of wins in team endurance racing all over the world. Elina’s passion for racing is always evident and we are ecstatic to have the Kiwi-Fin on the start line of the World Multisport Champs again in February 2019”
photo credit: Marathon-Photos.com