Events clash next year

Richard Ussher.
Richard Ussher.
Multisport athletes will have a difficult choice to make in February 2015 - Challenge Wanaka or Coast to Coast.

Instead of being a month before the Coast to Coast multisport event, the Challenge triathlon will be held a week after it - on February 22.

That is expected to rule out athletes competing in both, as professional athlete Richard Ussher is doing this year.

Ussher has won the Coast to Coast five times and holds the course record for Challenge Wanaka.

He was second to Dylan McNeice, of Christchurch, in Saturday's Challenge.

Challenge race director Victoria Murray-Orr told the Otago Daily Times yesterday putting the event back a month was intended to improve the chances of more settled weather, allow athletes more time with their families over Christmas and help solve accommodation issues.

Ms Murray-Orr said setting a new date so close to the Coast to Coast was considered.

''Our preferred weekend was the Coast to Coast weekend but we made a conscious decision not to go on the same weekend.''

Ms Murray-Orr said it would be very hard for athletes to do both events a week apart but they generally did just one.

Braden Currie, of Wanaka, who holds the record for the Challenge half and also won the Coast to Coast last year, decided not to enter Saturday's Challenge because he is preparing the Coast to Coast.

''It affects a couple of people but for the majority of people it doesn't have an effect,'' Ms Murray-Orr said.

The clash of dates this year and last year with a new Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman) event in Auckland on the same weekend was ''completely irrelevant'' to the decision to move the Challenge, she said.

''What 70.3 do, I have absolutely no interest in.''

She considered it a ''pretty poor show'' and ''just not that cool'' for the Ironman organisers to introduce a new event on the same date as Challenge Wanaka two years ago.

''It showed absolutely no respect for the athletes or the sport.

''It wasn't in the best interests of the sport. But that's not the reason we are moving. We are moving because it would suit our event better.''

mark.price@odt.co.nz