Elliott ready for toughest of tests

Hamish Elliott competes in the kayak stage on the Clutha River during the Challenge Wānaka Multi...
Hamish Elliott competes in the kayak stage on the Clutha River during the Challenge Wānaka Multi last year. He retained the title for the 25km kayak, 43km bike and 14km trail run in 3hr 59min 47sec. The event is a key part of his preparation for the Coast to Coast. PHOTO: LENNON BRIGHT
Hamish Elliott has gone over past mistakes and is "ready to rip" when the world championship of multisport starts tomorrow.

Wanaka-based Elliott, 29, has flourished since finishing third in the two-day individual Coast to Coast race in his debut in 2017.

That podium finish inspired him to tackle the Longest Day a year later, and, after leading the field at one stage, he finished seventh.

A top-10 finish in his first attempt at the world championship race was no mean feat.

Elliott then joined a team for some adventure racing in China, which rekindled his desire to return for a second crack at the Longest Day in 2020.

Fate played a cruel hand when a weather bomb hit the course, and despite being well prepared, Elliott become hyperthermic on the alpine run and was forced to withdraw.

In another cruel blow, Elliott had to withdraw from the 2021 Longest Day when breaking a hand two weeks out from race day.

Undeterred by those setbacks, Elliott was pulled back to the 2022 event for the inaugural three-person team category with pro cyclist Louis Crosby and kayaker Rachel Clarke.

Crosby is now part of the America’s Cup crew as a cyclor along with Olympian Hamish Bond and two-time Longest Day champion Dougal Allan.

Regaining a feel for the podium steps after winning the team category with Crosby and Clarke, Elliott returned to the Longest Day course last year, finishing fifth in 12hr 13min 29sec.

That refuelled Elliott’s belief in himself and his ability to make the top three, and together with kayak coach James Munro, he has analysed mistakes he has made on the course in the past and built the knowledge into his training.

One major adjustment was changing from his Phantom kayak craft to a Sharp 6.

An Achilles injury last winter kept him out of competing in the Red Bull Defiance Australia and stage racing in China, which has had the effect of refreshing him.

He has also been able to focus on Coast to Coast course familiarity — zoning in on the changing nature of water levels and the alpine stage — ahead of tomorrow’s race.

"It left me more time to focus on my kayaking and biking," Elliott said.

"As a runner, I do tend to push this early, and paddle-wise, I probably chose the wrong boat [last year].

"I had a couple of swims which probably cost me a lot of time so something with more stability is more likely to help me this year.

"I hope to be more efficient with better economy without too much speed loss."

Low river levels have been demanding in recent years. But with expected higher levels this year, Elliott is hopeful of a better result on the river.

He goes into the race as second-favourite behind defending champion Sam Manson.

Other challenges await from Australians Alex and Robbie Hunt, Swedish multisporter Lars Lofgren, and New Zealand contenders Bradley McNamara, Lachie Brownlie, Ryan Kiesanowski and Ben Phillips.

The world championship Longest Day starts from Kumara at 6am tomorrow. The first competitors are expected to break the tape at New Brighton just after 5.30pm.

 - By Wayne Parsons


Fact file
Hamish Elliott
Born: August 5, 1994
Partner: Liv Cockroft
Occupation: Lifestyle farmer, adventure tourism guide and running coach
Coast to Coast record: Third 2-day individual 2017; seventh Longest Day 2018; fifth Longest Day 2023; first 3-person Longest Day team race 2022
Other sport: First XV Waitaki Boys’ High School; first division rugby for Clinton, Ohai-Nightcaps and Waikaka