USSHERED TO THE PODIUM
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse Challenge, Wairoa, New Zealand 18-20 November 2010
“Last year I really suffered on the [16 km] last stage run. This year I ended up feeling pretty good, really,” mused Richard Ussher, after taking his third straight Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse Challenge title in Wairoa.
Indeed, on a baking hot day—he looked remarkably fresh.
Ussher’s lack of suffering is quite remarkable when you consider the race features almost 200 km of road cycling, mountain biking, kayaking and running. The highlight stage on Friday was a 46 km run, the full length of Lake Waikaremoana’s Great Walk.
The track takes hikers three or four days in itself: Ussher took under five hours.
The win surely cements Ussher’s position as the New Zealand’s, and arguably the world’s, best multisport athlete.
He finished in 12 hrs 42 min, over 20 min clear of fellow Nelson athlete Trevor Voyce, followed by Sam Clark, veteran George Christison, and Karl Moore. Australian challenger Jarad Kohlar, who reckoned the Waikaremoana run “just owned me,” finished well down.
Voyce finished day one only five minutes back on Ussher, but he admits cycling is his weak discipline and the day-two mountain bike was filled with hills.
“Yesterday was a bit of on an above-average performance for me,” said Voyce after the finish. “I always knew that [holding Ussher] would be a bit of a stretch. It’s an amazing race. It’s brutal. But I’ve been blown away by the support of the locals.”
Elina Ussher continued the family dominance, winning the women’s race in 14 hrs 24 min, seventh individual across the line. For them both, 2010 was a new race record.
Like her husband, that’s confirmation she is the sport’s best in New Zealand.
“It’s been a hard two days,” she said. “The race is really difficult, there is so much on the legs [running and cycling]. The last run is just a killer.”
Dwarne Farley and Gordon Blythen took out the two-man team’s category, but it wasn’t easy for them either.
Farley began the last run thinking he could chase down Ussher, who started five minutes in front. Farley did exactly that: but he’d over-cooked the effort.
“It was so hot up there [on farmland above Wairoa],” the Mt Maunganui athlete said. “Five minutes after I caught Richard I blew.”
Farley ended up losing several minutes to Ussher. But he and Blythen still clocked 13 hrs 3 min, to beat Avanti Plus Taradale duo Andrew Bott and Nick Crocker, 13 hrs 18 min.