More entries, more depth and some inspiring personal stories has Ussher excited about Kathmandu Coast to Coast

More entries, more depth and some inspiring personal stories has Kathmandu Coast to Coast Director Richard Ussher very excited about this year’s event.

“There is going to be some fantastic racing this year,” he said. “We have over 700 entries, the most for a number of years, and there is real depth across all the events. The elite field is looking really strong while there are some amazing stories behind some of the entries in the two day event. It’s certainly shaping up as the best event ever with a world class international field.”  

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is an iconic multisport event based in the South Island. The two day event starts on the West Coast at Kumara beach on Friday with a short run off the beach followed by a 55 kilometre cycle leg, and finishes with the mountain run.

The World Championship longest day one day event is held on Saturday, traversing the width of the South Island, crossing the main divide where competitors reach over 1000 metres above sea level during the mountain run, finishing on the East Coast in Christchurch at the Pier on New Brighton beach.

The Kathmandu Coast to Coast longest day World Championship is shaping up as the most competitive race in the event’s 33 year history.

In the men’s race Wanaka athlete and three time winner Braden Currie is lining up after taking a year off to pursue his Olympic triathlon dream setting up an intriguing 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.

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 racked up a number of impressive performances which includes 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.

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 and Sarah Bryant.

Ussher is very happy with the quality of the field and the amount of entries which are well up on previous years. There has also been a significant increase in interest in the event from overseas, with more international athletes entered than ever before.

“There’s something really special about the Kathmandu Coast to Coast,” he said. “There’s a real sense of community and family that stretches right across the event from the competitors, their support crews to the volunteers and everyone working on the event. There are so many great, inspiring stories behind why people are doing the event, it can be quite humbling.”

Examples include Amelia Smith, who is competing in the two day event to tick another item off her bucket list as she is suffering from terminal kidney cancer, Richard Warwick who is paralysed down the left side of his body, is back to knock off the run after not quite getting there two years ago and last year’s women’s individual two day winner Anna Barrett has teamed up with her mum in a tandem team.

There is also a group from the far north of New Zealand that made a 1700 kilometre training journey south, cycling and kayaking to get to the iconic event, Rio Olympic paddler Mike Dawson has entered the two day team’s event with his partner Martina Wegman, a Dutch canoe Slalom and extreme kayak athlete, looking for a fresh challenge, and former New Zealand Maori, Counties and Chiefs rugby prop Lee Lidgard has lost over 40 kilograms training for the two day event.   

Brando ‘Wildboy’ Yelavich, the first person to circumnavigate the coastline of New Zealand’s North and South Island by foot who recently spent thirty days hiking around Stewart Island where he battled summer storms, sub-zero temperatures and fought off cannibalistic rats, is another really looking forward to taking on the two day event for the first time.