Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ussher Wins Coast to Coast

One of our Athletes Elina Ussher has taken on the ultimate Challenge and competed in the Coast to Coast, A grueling event held in conditions the day presents.... Hot , Cold , Snow.... you name it , they do it .
Below is her race Report..... Congratulation on the win Elina... from the team at blueseventy.

I don’t know if this will be very interesting as it really did work out quite simply this year for me – Finally!!!
Well, that is before the rain on Saturday morning and the mad panic to change things only 10 hours before the start when around at 8pm we started receiving calls about the course being changed to the alternative one.

So even though we made plans to change everything I was still thinking maybe it was all a big hoax.
In the mean time Richard had sawed my rudder in half with a Leatherman and shaped it using the asphalt as a file – to try and avoid some of the weed notorious for collecting on rudders in the Avon River and we set about changing nutrition plans and strategies.
The next morning at 3am I woke up to the sound of torrential rain thundering down on the roof and immediately had second thoughts about using my Time Trial bike in the first ride. Luckily it didn’t take too many elbows to wake Richard up and send him out to swap everything over to the road bike to make the first ride a bit safer in the first bunch ride.
At 4:30am we set off for the start and the rain was so heavy that at times it was hard to see out the front window and added to that the wind was threatening to blow the kayaks off the car roof.
It wasn’t too cold but with so much rain and wind I was sent to the start bundled up in a ridiculous amount of clothes to be start a race, but once down at the beach and sheltering from the elements behind a row of port-a-loos I was pretty happy to have the warm gear.
Judkins gave a short race briefing which I couldn’t hear over the flap of rubbish bags (that people were wearing prior to the race in an effort to stay dry) and the fact the rain seemed to be affecting the microphone rather badly.
After the briefing it was literally 1, 2, 3 GO! And we were off.
My plan was to have a good run and to be in the first bunch for the opening ride and after the initial sprint had stopped I was able to move slowly up the field in the 3km heading to the bikes.
Luckily I found my bike with no problem this time and set off in the draft of some guy giving in the full beans. He hammered it for about 20 min as we just missed the fastest guys breaking away off the front and as our pace slowed slightly a bunch slowly formed around us – first mission accomplished, in a good bunch.

Coming off the bike I found Richard pretty easily even though he’d done his best to camouflage himself in a big black blueseventy wet suit jacket. He and Dan swapped my bike gear for running gear and I headed out on the revised run course – over the Arthurs pass road.
My plan for the run was to be a bit conservative as following the run was a monster ride of almost 140km with some brutal looking hills in it.

Once over the top the sun was starting to shine and it gave me a bit of a boost as I thought the bike ride would be much nicer in the sun.
The run might have been a bit shorter but it definitely wasn’t any easier than the normal run over Goat Pass and by all accounts many of the competitors were looking a bit worse for wear come the transition at Klondyke Corner.
It was great to get a drink and also to change the running shoes for the bike and as I set off Rich yelled that there would be drafting on the section which was obviously one of the things I hadn’t been able to hear at the briefing on the beach that morning.
I wasn’t very happy about the drafting as it meant if the girls chasing me were able to get a draft off a fast guy then they could’ve caught up a lot of time. I tried to relax though and think that hopefully all the fast riders were also the faster runners and with any luck already up ahead.
It was a strange feeling to ride past the turn off to Mt White where we usually head down to start the kayaking section – even more so as it was now brilliant sun shine and getting hotter all the time.
I kept riding and trying to keep my wattage at a good level and just before a really steep hill I managed to catch up to a bunch of about 6 guys who’d I’d been slowly catching over the first hour.

It was pretty hard at first but then I decided I had better save my energy and not worry about it and focus on getting to the aid station. That’s where the Adventure racing experiences came in handy – at least it wasn’t 40 degrees and in the middle of a sand storm, really not so bad at all.
Finally at the transition and I had a formula one stop for new drinks and gels and just managed to keep contact with the rest of the bunch as we headed out for the final 50km towards Christchurch and the amended paddle down the mighty Avon.
It almost seemed like a bad joke at the start of the paddle and I was just waiting for us to join the main flow as it was so shallow and slow.
I’d been told I was roughly 10 min ahead of second going into the river and so I knew I just had to keep fighting to maintain that as best I could.
As the river got a bit bigger there was a really strong headwind so it seemed like I wasn’t going anywhere when Dan Busch from Nelson passed me. He picked off a bit of weed on my rudder and said I had a really good lead and only a few kilometres to go which gave me a bit of a lift.
It was still hard to believe any info about where any of the other girls were, so I just kept paddling as hard as I could but I felt like I must be getting closer as the Sportzhub guys were there filming and I could see the estuary getting closer.
When I saw the bridge and heard the finish was just on the other side it was a great feeling – until Richard tried to rip me out of the boat a bit quickly and I thought I might break. My legs didn’t want to work and I was a having a few cramps as Danial and him got me onto the bike.
Once I finally got the biking shoes on properly there was no problem with the legs though and my only problem was the amount of traffic on the road to Sumner.
So the final few kilometres were slightly slower due to a large amount of respect for how I’d fare compared to the cars in a crash. I think it was actually the lead vehicle that was causing the big line but it was a great feeling to come round the corner into Sumner and see the finish line.
I was still thinking on the final sandy bend it all seemed a bit unreal – surely someone was going to shoot past me right at the end? The day had gone really smoothly and the feeling running the final few metres to the finish line was fantastic to finally have tamed this particular race, all be it on a slightly amended course.
For me I was really focused on racing and winning on the original course, as all the girls were, but having to do such a long gruelling day on a course I was totally mentally and physically unprepared for still made the victory very sweet and very special and after all we still went Coast to Coast.
Thanks to all our sponsors and my support crew Danial and Rich

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