Simson to become 'sack of potatoes'

The winners of the men's and women's sections of the Coast to Coast on Saturday, Jess Simson and Braden Currie, both of Wanaka, are looking ahead to China. Photo by Hazen Currie.
The winners of the men's and women's sections of the Coast to Coast on Saturday, Jess Simson and Braden Currie, both of Wanaka, are looking ahead to China. Photo by Hazen Currie.
A Coast to Coast champion one minute and a ''sack of potatoes'' the next.

That's the way Jess Simson (29), sees her progression as she prepares for her next big event - the Wenzhou Adventure Challenge in China in April.

Simson is back home in Wanaka after winning the women's section of the Kumara to Christchurch one-day Coast to Coast multisport race on Saturday.

She told the Otago Daily Times yesterday she and repeat men's winner Braden Currie (27), also of Wanaka, were teaming up to compete in Wenzhou.

The other members of the four-person team are Currie's brother Glen (31), of Methven, and Dougal Allan (26), of Wanaka.

The Wenzhou Challenge features four days of running, kayaking, mountain biking, abseiling, swimming and climbing.

Throughout the event, team members can be no more than 100m apart.

As the only female in the team, Simson has no illusions about the part she will play.

''Obviously I'm going to be off the pace of the guys, but they are doing everything they can to make me go faster.

''So Braden will actually have me on a tow-rope running.

''And my bike will be on a dog leash when we bike.

''Dougal will drag me.

''So, I'm just like a sack of potatoes being dragged through the course.''

She agrees being towed on a bicycle is dangerous but she will get to ride the downhill sections on her own.

Simson has competed at Wenzhou before but considers it ''quite a privilege'' to be chosen to race in the Currie/Allan team, which was formed at the end of last month.

''This will be the most intense sack of potatoes I will ever be.

''It will be the most competitive team I have been in, which means the pace will be even worse.

''It's going to be an experience and I'm lucky to have the guys.

''At least they're nice to me.''

Braden Currie has previously competed in Wenzhou in a team with Richard and Elina Ussher.

At the end of the Coast to Coast, Simson collapsed and spent half an hour getting medical treatment for exhaustion. However, she now reports no lasting issues.

A natural runner, Simson said kayaking was the issue for her, particularly because a shoulder and hand injury sustained in a previous race restricted her training time.

Simson worked for the Department of Conservation until early last year, when she decided to concentrate on racing fulltime.

''I decided I might as well fully commit to the racing side of things for a couple of years and see how far I can take it.''

mark.price@odt.co.nz