A regal Richard Ussher reigned supreme at the Australasian Multisport championships in Rotorua yesterday, winning the feature race for the second year running.
The 35-year-old also took more than 5min off his winning time in last year's inaugural race, pulling clear of Wanaka's Braden Currie to win in 2hrs 40mins 43secs, with young Whakatane tyro Sam Clark finishing a brave third.
Currie's time of 2:45:58 was just a second off Ussher's time last year but with smooth conditions on the 8km kayak leg and a dry forest for the 30km mountain bike and 12km run, he finished 5:15 behind the Coast to Coast legend. Clark was a further 2:21 adrift, having been run down by Currie with 1500m to go.
"The race worked out as the ideal scenario for me and I was a bit surprised to get a gap on Sam in the paddle," Ussher said. "I tried to ride really smooth through the technical stuff and without anyone right on my tail, I took it a bit easier to set it up for the run."
He had enough time after he had finished to cheer on his wife Elina going past on her second run lap as she fought to reel in Rotorua local Nic Leary. Her 3:14:14 time was a new race record, more than 8mins faster than her winning time last year, although she was pushed much harder this year with Leary finishing just 1:23 behind.
"I thought she'd come by me sooner on the run and when she didn't, I was trying to dig deep," Leary admitted. "I heard her behind me at the top of the quarry track and she just trotted up past me and off she went."
Australian Deanna Begg was third in the women's race, just 24secs behind Leary, but ahead of Nelson's Fleur Lattimore.
The men's field had to chase Ussher from the start, although the endurance guru had some unlikely company in the paddle around Lake Okareka.
Australian veteran John Jacoby, Coast to Coast winner in 1988, 1989 and 1993, showed he had lost none of his renowned paddling strength, sticking rigidly to Ussher's wake for the entire 8km. Although he faded in the bike, Jacoby had the satisfaction of finishing as highest-placed Australian, his 2:57:38 time good enough for eighth.