Wanaka's Jessica Simpson announced her arrival on the multisport scene with a record-breaking opening day in the Speight's Coast to Coast.

Almost 500 participants from 21 countries went to the start line on the West Coast's Kumara Beach yesterday for the Two Day race. More than 100 will toe the line again today for the One Day World Championship race. But after a staggering first day Simpson left onlookers wondering what might have happened if she had entered today's race.

Simpson led the women's two day race from start to finish, finishing the day in fifth place overall after a women's Two-Day individual mountain run record of 3hrs 40min, a time that clipped 1min 55secs off the 25 year old record of 1988 winner Claire Parkes (Nels).

She finished the opening 55km cycle among the top dozen men, but was closely followed by Hamilton's Shanelle Cornille. But once running she romped away on the 34km run over Goat Pass to finish the day with a 42 minute lead.


"It's all so new to me," she said. "All I was just trying to do my own race and see how it went.

"I've never done much bunch cycling before, so when our bunch got quite big I just tried to stay safe. I had only been over the run once in training and even though I thought I knew it pretty well, you get out there in the excitement of the race and you don't know where the hell you're going.

"It was awesome though. A perfect day and I felt good. But now I have to think about tomorrow."

Seamus Meikle is also thinking about today. After a dominant first day the 27-year-old chiropractor set himself up to be the latest Greymouth resident to roll out of bed and win the race that starts on his own back door.

Meikle was part of a five man break- away on the opening cycle section. Clocking a slick 1hr 39min for the 55km ride they missed the course record by a scant minute. Starting the mountain run he was closely followed by Hamilton's Will Sams and Christchurch's Josh Harris. Like Simpson in the women's race, however, once the running started Meikle took control.

He eventually reached Klondyke Corner at Arthur's Pass 18 minutes clear of Sams and 26min clear of third place Mitch Munro from Christchurch, although the Waiuku-born leader admitted later, "I was just running my own race and honestly didn't realise too much who was around me.

"The conditions were pretty fast so I just concentrated on taking the right short cuts and keeping the pace up."

Meikle, who finished 10th last year in the world championship One Day race, was less confident about today's race to the finish line at Sumner Beach in Christchurch.

"Normally, I'd say my strength is kayaking," he said. "But after today maybe I'm a runner."