NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH ISLAND – Stellenbosch local, Robyn Owen (Best4Sports / Jeep / Salomon) is on top of the world after the 27-year-old multisport sensation raced to victory in the World Multisport Championships at the Kathmandu Longest Day Coast to Coast this past weekend.
The Kathmandu Coast to Coast is an iconic multisport event based in the South Island of New Zealand. Held every February, the race starts at Kumara Beach on New Zealand’s West Coast, and traverses the width of the South Island, crossing the main divide, finishing on the East Coast at the Pier on New Brighton Beach in Christchurch. Across six stages, competitors cycle 140km, kayak 70km and run 34.1km (total 243km).
The women’s race was set for a titanic battle between the strongest women in multisport racing history – four-time Coast to Coast winner, Elina Ussher (New Zealand); three-time adventure racing world champion, Sophie Hart (New Zealand); 2015 runner-up, Simone Maier (New Zealand); and Owen, who has represented South Africa at world championship level in canoeing, mountain running and adventure racing.
Owen, the Otter African Trail Run record holder and second-place finisher in the 2017 Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100km, showed her running and cycling prowess at the start with a short, sharp 2.2km run to get onto the first leg of the bike. If left behind here, catching up is impossible, as Owen experienced in 2017, but a stronger, smarter Owen emerged this year.
It was on the running stages that Owen created the biggest gap, a 16-minute lead over Hart and Maier during the 30.5km mountain run. Five-time winner and current record-holder of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, Owen’s illustrious paddling proficiency then extended her lead to 20 minutes heading into a nail-biting final 70-kilometre bike leg.
Coast to Coast winner in 2011 and 2013, Hart, gained on Owen, cutting her lead to just under four minutes. Owen held on for a memorable victory in 12h44m56s, 45 minutes faster than her time in 2017. Second place went to Hart in 12h48m46s, and third place to Maier in 13h02m21s. Owen finished 14th overall.
Said Owen at the finish line, “I can’t believe it, I am delighted. I didn’t know who was in second. But somewhere back on the road I heard my lead was down to 10 minutes, which I guessed meant she had been catching on the ride. So, I was trying to survive the last few kilometres, looking over my shoulder on each corner.”
In the men’s race, Sam Clark of New Zealand claimed his third consecutive win, almost 30 minutes ahead of Australian multi-sport athlete, Alex Hunt. Finishing 10-minutes behind Hunt in third, was fellow Australian, James Pretto.
RESULTS – Kathmandu Longest Day Coast to Coast
|1. Robyn Owen (RSA)||12h 44m 56s|
|2. Sophie Hart (NZL)||12h 48m 46s|
|3. Simone Maier (NZL)||13h 02m 21s|
|4. Elian Ussher (NZL)||13h 11m 29s|
|5. Corrinne O’ Donnell (NZL)||13h 16m 54s|
|1. Sam Clark (NZL)||11h 14m 33s|
|2. Alex Hunt (AUS)||11h 43m 57s|
|3. James Pretto (AUS)||11h 53m 05s|
|9. Lance Kime (RSA)||12h 32m 38s|
|11. James Speed (RSA)||12h 40m 20s|
|30. Bruce Hughes (RSA)||13h 47m 36s|