Luck with Maier in incident-packed women’s win

Simone Maier crosses over Goat Pass on her way to winning the Longest Day in the Coast to Coast....
Simone Maier crosses over Goat Pass on her way to winning the Longest Day in the Coast to Coast. Photo: Wayne Parsons
It was third time lucky for Simone Maier as she completed a Wanaka double in winning the open women’s Longest Day title of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast on Saturday.

Victory for Maier (38) was not without incident, as she incurred a 2min time penalty, because of technical fault during transition back on to the bike following the 33km mountain run. Then, as she put the hammer down leaving Klondyke, she crashed into a camper van on the one-way bridge, about 1km into the 15km bike to the Mount White Bridge transition point for the 67km kayak stage down the Waimakariri River.

"I was just smashing it out and the next thing there was this corner and I just used my brakes and the back wheel was swifting and I didn’t make the corner and the next thing I thought ‘oh, my God’. There was this big bang. I thought ‘my race is over’," she said of the incident.

Having made her intentions clear on the 55km bike and 33km mountain run, Maier, shaken but undeterred, remained fully focused on the task at hand, and was straight back up and on her bike in an instant.

Despite initial brake and rear wheel issues, she  powered away to take a 3min 47sec lead on a four-time champion Elina Ussher (Nelson).

Maier doubled her lead over Ussher on the water, while her support crew made a quick check for any damage to her bike.

Coming off the river, there was no slowing Maier as she powered away again, through the 70km bike stage, to break the tape at New Brighton in 12hr 58min 36sec, almost 9min clear of Ussher, who clocked 13min 7min 10sec. Fiona Dowling (Alexandra) was third in 13hr 9min 17sec."I still can’t believe it. I need to give it some time.

"I put a lot of time and effort into this event and I know it’s going to be hard and I guess there was a lot of expectation on me and I guess a lot of pressure from myself.

"To actually win the ‘Coast’ is pretty amazing," she said.

"It is my third attempt and, I guess, third time lucky."

Maier said it had taken some time to get all the stars in alignment in planning her assault on the title.

"I had an amazing support crew, An amazing team behind me to help me."

As for celebrating her victory Maier said she planned to have a swim in the ocean.

"I touched it on the west side and now I touch it on the east side," she said.

"I just want to thank everybody who supported me and all my friends who wished me luck. It’s been amazing. And to all the Wanaka people also."

Maier’s victory was another success story for three-time champion Emily Miazga, who inspired Sam Clark to three consecutive titles, and now has four straight through her words of wisdom to Maier.

Ussher, who has become synonymous with the event for the past 14 years, was non- committal to giving any thought of contesting the Longest Day title for a 15th time next year.

"I just hit the wall too early, and Simone just ran away from me," she said.

"Since that, I just kept trying my best. I tried to catch her on the river but she just rowed away from me."

Her time might not have been quicker than that of her father, but the result was something that always proved elusive, when Selena Metherell (Christchurch) backed up her lead in the first day, to win the open women’s category of the two-day race.

Metherell clocked 14hr 28min 1sec, Connie Dick (Christchurch) was second in 14hr 44min 38sec, and Hannah Lund (Dannevirke) third in 14hr 55min 54sec.

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