Champions Return To Defend Their Titles
With titles to defend, both the 2019 men’s and women’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast Champions will return for the 38th edition of the 243-kilometre adventure race from the South Island’s West coast to the East.
Wanaka’s Dougal Allan will wear the number one bib for the first time, while Simone Maier will go from being the chaser to the chased, after heading off four-time champion Elina Ussher, to win her maiden title in 12 hours 56 minutes and 36 seconds.
‘I knew I was coming back again even before I stood on the start line in 2019,’ said Allan.
The 34-year-old says defending his title is his goal, although this year’s build up does feel a little strange after winning the title last race was more an outcome of a great race, rather than his major focus.
‘I hadn’t raced the Coast to Coast for six years and I did wonder, what might happen if I go back and say come second, what would happen if I executed the race to the best of my ability and still don’t win it?’
‘But when my feet hit the sand on New Brighton beach I kind of came out of this zone, where I realised what I was about to achieve, it was a crazy feeling.’
‘So, it definitely feels a little different this time around.’
Maier, who heads the elite women’s seeding, will be extremely tough to beat, after standing on top of the podium for the first time in 2019, the Kiwi German went on to create history by winning the GodZone Adventure Race as part of the first ever gender balanced team in April this year.
‘I had a pretty amazing year; it’s taken a while, but it has been so good to get some reward for all that hard work I’ve put in over the years.’
The 39-year-old has also been racing in China with Allan, two-time men’s champion Sam Clarke and last year’s second place getter Sam Manson. ‘That was so epic. I learnt a lot from them all, even little things like around the transitions and I think that will be good for me in the future.’
Maier also believes she can go even faster than in 2019. ‘It’ll depend on the conditions, like the flow in the river, but I have started working a lot more on my paddling and I hope to have a significant improvement in my paddle and if that happens it could be amazing. But if I keep getting better with my paddling the result will show.’
Staying upright on her bike is also a goal for the 2020 event, after coming off between the mountain run and kayak leg, which she believes cost her a couple of minutes. ‘I just need to concentrate a little more and there are a few minutes I could improve right there.’