Wānaka athletes take Coast to Coast top spots
Two Wānaka athletes have claimed the top spots in the gruelling 'longest day' of this year's Coast to Coast.
In his fourth attempt to hoist the silverware, Hamish Elliott clinched a nail-biter in the elite men's field on Saturday.
He traversed the width of the South Island, from west to east coasts and crossing the main divide, in 10 hours, 48 minutes, and 53 seconds.
Known for his speed over Goat Pass in the mountain run section of the 243-kilometre race, Mr Elliott was true to form, coming off the leg with a five-minute advantage over eventual second-place getter Australia's Alex Hunt.
It was a lead the 29 year old maintained all the way to the finish line at the pier on New Brighton Beach in Christchurch.
“This is the pinnacle,” Mr Elliott says of his win.
“It’s the smoothest race I’ve managed to put together. To win amongst these competitors is incredible.”
Three minutes behind the top place getter, Alex Hunt, of Australia came second in the men's field, and Ben Phillips, of Christchurch, third.
Making it a double for Wānaka, Simone Maier was the first female across the line, finishing in 12 hours, 31 minutes, and eight seconds.
It was the fifth win for the Wānaka local - a feat organisers have called "impressive", equally the record of earlier five-time winner Kathy Lynch.
“The conditions didn’t make it easy out there today, but the harder it gets, the better it is for me,” Ms Maier said soon after her win.
“It means so much to win this five times – it was a hard-fought win.”
Meanwhile, Hannah Lund placed second, and Fiona Dowling third, after a race that saw the lead switch throughout the day.
Race director Glen Currie says he isn't surprised to see the Southern Lakes well represented in the winners' list.
"It's certainly got some really strong competitors. Obviously, it's one of the best places to train for these sorts of events."
He says this weekend's weather made for some gnarly racing conditions, especially for those a little further back in the field.
While the event kicked off with sunshine and warmth, by the end of one section of racing, three to four centimetres of snow had fallen on parts of the mountain running route.
"The wind built on Saturday...giving some racers an amazing tail wind that resulted in some fast times...Then the southerly change came later in the day."
Those still out on the course had to battle the cold front, he says.
"It was a tough course for them."
This year's was the 42nd edition of the Multisport event, regarded as one of the world's largest of its kind.
Main images (Supplied/Kathmandu Coast to Coast/Iain McGregor): World Multisport Longest Day Champions Hamish Elliott, left, and Simone Maier, right, reach the finish line of the 243-kilometre Coast to Coast race.