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Gordon Walker Defends His Title At The Speight's Coast To Coast Longest Day 2010

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gordon Walker
Gordon Walker

History was made at the Speight's Coast to Coast when for the first time, due to severe weather conditions, the Kayak leg took place along the Avon River, running for just 17km from Hagley Park to Mt Pleasant Yacht Club near Sumner Beach.

Earlier in the race, another change saw the Mountain Run replaced by a lengthy road leg, taking competitors through the Otira Gorge. Competitors attacked the 30km journey through driving rain and wind, including a gruelling 750metre vertical high altitude climb.

Despite unexpected changes to the course, two-time defending champion Gordon Walker nabbed the top spot at the 2010 Speight's Coast to Coast finishing the Longest Day with an outstanding time of 09:43:24.

Walker finished with a convincing lead over Dougal Allan (2009 Two-Day Individual winner) who came in at second place with a time of 09:48:23. With an impressive multisport history between them, both Allan and Walker were favourites for the first place spot. The pair formed a two-man breakaway for the majority of the race, even getting into their kayaks at the same time. Well-known for his prowess with the paddle, Gordon then steamed ahead, putting 20minutes in between them.

Third place in the Men's Longest Day went to Jacob Roberts, a Christchurch cabinet-maker, improved from 11th in 2007 to fourth in 2008, but missed 2009 to injury. Roberts had a finishing time of 10:21:24.

Walker's usual rival, Richard Ussher, bowed out of the race for 2010 to support his wife Elina Ussher as she took on her nemesis and three-time Longest Day champion Emily Miazga, taking out first place for the first time. This was Ussher's fifth year in the race, her highest previous placing being second in 2006. Ussher had a convincing lead for the entire race and her win was evident early on when she had a 17minute lead on Miazga at Klondyke Corner.

"It was a completely different race because of the course change, but you just have to keep positive. It's hard to describe the feeling of winning, it's awesome. You can't change the weather so the change in course was the right decision, so now I'll just have to come back and win the race on the original course!" says Ussher.

Louise Mark from Auckland gained second place in the Woman's Longest Day with a time of 11:32:58, while third place went to Nelson's Sophie Hart who has plenty of adventure racing experience and is a quick runner, finishing at 11:47:28.

The new course created a very different Speight's Coast to Coast from the one that many competitors had prepared for, with a slightly longer, but much tougher Cycle leg. Winds gusting 130 kilometres an hour and extremely heavy rain spelled the change in course.

Veteran Speight's Coast to Coast champion, Steve Gurney, now a member of the support crew, comments on the Cycling leg: "Competitors rode through contrasting conditions, with the first half becoming a gnarly bike ride of gradients and hills through blinding, tricky rain in Porters Pass which was followed by sunshine on the straights and flat into Christchurch, with a slight tailwind."

Speight's all-star team consisting of NZ cricketer Mark "Rigger" Richardson and Olympic Kayaker Ian Ferguson, gave the field a run for their money win the two-day team event with a finishing time of 13:45:56.

One-day competitors set off from Kumara Beach on the West Coast at 6am this morning.

Speight's Coast to Coast 2010 Two-day Individual competition

Christchurch local Adam Milne has taken out the Men's Two-Day competition, crossing the line after 11 hours and 35 minutes; with James Kuelgler coming in second place after 11 hours and 39 minutes on the course. The first female two-day individual competitor was Joanna Williams from Ireland with a time of 13 hours and 24 minutes and Amy Brazier of Christchurch gained second place (13 hours 39 minutes).

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