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Fresh out of high school, Whakatane's Hayden Wilde (18) is heading for big things in sport on the evidence of his performance on the first day of the two-day Coast to Coast individual section yesterday.
Wilde's lead of 22min 1sec at the end of the first day comes straight from the pages of a Boy's Own annual, and should he lift the two-day crown at New Brighton later today, it will become his sixth victory in triathlon and multisport competition, and seventh step on to the podium in as many weeks.
His only stumble was second place in last month's Defiance race, in and around Wanaka. He was a member of a mixed team with Corrinne Smit.
Smit is one of the favourites to lift the open women's crown in the Longest Day event, which gets under way at 6am today. A strong ride at the front of the peloton set Wilde up for a strong mountain run.‘‘She was pretty hard. The teams weren't kicking in until about the 40km mark,'' he said.
Wilde looked for a bit of drag in the 55km cycle section to Aickens.
On entering the 33km mountain run, Wilde's game plan was to stretch a lead from the start and push through while making sure no-one could follow his lines.
Despite making it all going to plan, Wilde began to feel the effects of his recent racing in his legs, turning an ankle heading up to Goat Pass, which cost him an estimated 20 minutes while he regrouped.
But such was the lead he had opened up on the field, that he was never threatened, going on to complete the first day in 5hr 12min 59sec.
Rest overnight will be crucial for Wilde as he prepares to hold his position at the business end of the event, involving a 57km kayak down the Waimakariri River and 70km bike to the finish at New Brighton.
Wilde is confident of having a strong kayak stage today, despite low water levels.
‘‘The kayak should be a good one. I'd love to have a good time there. And from there just get on that bike and tough it to the end.''
Since taking up multisport as a pupil at Trident High School three years ago, Wilde always had a view to competing in the Coast to Coast.
‘‘It's the big cake of multisport.''
But any multisport and any future Coast to Coast endeavours will be on the back-burner as he follows his dream to be selected in triathlon for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
A second wind on the alpine run was all it took for Anna Barrett (Mt Maunganui), to clinch a seven-minute lead in the open women's section. Barrett completed the first day in 6hr 2min 8sec.
The Christchurch trio of Flavio Vianna, Alex Nisbet and Ian Huntsman are well placed to clinch the teams title with Nisbet handing Vianna a lead of over four minutes to take into the mountain run.
But despite drifting into some dark places on the 33km alpine run, Vianna was spurred on by the recent arrival of son Rafael and a green card from fiancee Tori Stableford which allowed him to compete. Vianna extended the early lead set up by Nisbet out to 25min 4sec, as the pair finished the first day in a time of 4hr 49min 57sec.
Queenstown-based Hamish Fleming won the open men's section of the associated 33km alpine run in 3hr 6min 35sec. Longest Day competition starts at 6am this morning at Kumara Beach, and day two for the two-day section begins at Klondyke Corner at 7am.