Win ‘best birthday present’ for Maier

Simone Maier tackles a river crossing during the Coast to Coast on Saturday. PHOTO: IAIN MCGREGOR
Simone Maier tackles a river crossing during the Coast to Coast on Saturday. PHOTO: IAIN MCGREGOR
Simone Maier continued the dominance of Wanaka athletes with a commanding performance to win back-to-back elite women’s titles in the Coast to Coast on Saturday.

Maier added another colourful chapter to the 40th edition of the world championship of multisport with victory on her 42nd birthday.

She was greeted by a rendition of Happy Birthday from the small crowd when she broke the tape in 11hr 52min 18sec.

Maier wasted little time in taking control of the race, staving off threats by three-time champion Elina Ussher (Nelson), Fiona Dowling (Christchurch), Rebecca Kingsford (Christchurch) and some rookies keen to make their presence felt.

"That was hard. It wasn’t an easy win, but worth fighting for,” Maier said.

“Today is a special day. It’s my birthday and this is the best birthday present I could make for myself.

"I’m pretty happy. It’s just such a huge challenge.”

It was potentially her swan song, Maier said, but as there were changes due to weather conditions, she might come back for more in 2023.

“I feel like I have to come back and finish off on the main course.”

Ussher overcame an epic battle with Dowling to finish second in 12hr 4sec, Dowling crossing for third in 12hr 2min 51sec.

Ussher, who was contesting the Longest Day for a 17th time, said it was a “very tough day out there”.

“On the mountain run, the river was pretty high, so we had some difficulty.

"It took a lot out of me so I was struggling at the start of the long ride."

Ussher said the high water on the river stage made it hard to steer, making for a stressful time on the water.

“I just love this race. It’s just a such a huge personal challenge.

"I guess, at age 45, it will be interesting to see how I can improve.”

Triathlete Rebecca Kingsford made a more than successful debut in the Longest Day, finishing fourth in a time of 12hr 26min 30sec.


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