Southland claims challenge

The Sport Southland combination that won regional bragging rights over Sport Canterbury comprised...
The Sport Southland combination that won regional bragging rights over Sport Canterbury comprised (from left) Tessa Hewlett (kayaker), Brendon McDermott (runner) and Lauren Richardson (cyclist). Photo: Wayne Parsons
It was the multisport equivalent of the Stags’ Ranfurly Shield victory over Canterbury in 2009, when the Sport Southland team won an interprovincial challenge in the two-day section of the Kathmandu Coast to Coast at the weekend.

The Sport Southland trio of Brendon McDermott, Lauren Richardson and Tessa Hewlett, ably crewed by Dean Baxter, Nathan Burdon and Caleb McDermott, defeated their Sport Canterbury counterparts by 26min 26sec, completing the two-day, 243km challenge in 16hr 10min 50sec.

A strong 55km bike on the first day from Richardson let the northern rivals know

Southland was not on the course to make up the numbers. Richardson’s starring role for the team was backed up by McDermott on the gruelling 33km mountain run,  putting the Stags team on match point going into the second day of competition.

Richardson was again to the fore on the 15km bike to the transition at Mount White Bridge.

Hewlett hammered home the advantage on the 67km kayak stage down the Waimakariri River from the Hawdon Valley, before it was Richardson’s  turn again, on the 70km bike to the finish at New Brighton.

The idea of the interprovincial challenge came about when Sport Canterbury entered a team and laid down the challenge to Southland.

"We’re all about getting people active," Brendon McDermott, the chief executive of Sport Southland, said.

"They talked the talk, so we walked the walk and were up for the challenge. It was an outstanding ride on the first bike ride from Lauren, so I thought I owed it to the team to do the business on the run."

After a strong first day, McDermott was confident his team would come to the party at the business end of the challenge on the second day.

"They were the ones chasing and the ones that had to do all the work."

He added that he owed the victory to a big support team in Southland following their fortunes, not only in the race, but for bragging rights between the two provinces.

As for making it an annual challenge and perhaps opening it up to include other regions, the two said they were up for it.

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