Coast to Coast champs hungry to defend titles

Simone Maier at the Kathmandu Coast to Coast finish line earlier this year.
Simone Maier at the Kathmandu Coast to Coast finish line earlier this year.
The men’s and women’s Kathmandu Coast to Coast champions will return to defend their titles in the 38th edition of the 243km adventure race.

Dougal Allan will wear the No 1 bib for the first time, while Simone Maier will go from being the chaser to the chased after heading off four-time champion Elina Ussher to win her maiden title in 12hr 56min 36sec this year.

They will race from the West Coast of the South Island to the east on February 7-8. 2020.

"I knew I was coming back again even before I stood on the start line in 2019," said Allan.

The 34-year-old says defending his title is the goal.

"I hadn’t raced the Coast to Coast for six years and I did wonder, what might happen if I go back and say come second, what would happen if I executed the race to the best of my ability and still don’t win it?

"But when my feet hit the sand on New Brighton beach I kind of came out of this zone, where I realised what I was about to achieve, it was a crazy feeling.

"So it definitely feels a little different this time around."

Maier, who will be the elite women’s top seed, will be extremely tough to beat. After standing on top of the podium for the first time this year, the Kiwi-German also went on to create history by winning the GodZone Adventure Race as part of the first ever gender-balanced team in April.

"I had a pretty amazing year. It’s taken a while, but it has been so good to get some reward for all that hard work I’ve put in over the years."

The 39-year-old has been racing in China with Allan, two-time men’s champion Sam Clarke, and last year’s second place finisher Sam Manson.

"That was so epic. I learnt a lot from them all, even little things like around the transitions and I think that will be good for me in the future."

Maier believes she can go even faster next year.

"It’ll depend on the conditions, like the flow in the river, but I have started working a lot more on my paddling and I hope to have a significant improvement in my paddle, and if that happens it could be amazing. But if I keep getting better with my paddling the result will show."

Staying upright on her bike is a key goal from Maier after she came off between the mountain run and kayak leg this year, which cost her a couple of minutes.

"I just need to concentrate a little more and there are a few minutes I could improve right there," she said.



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