The 22nd running of Wellington's Hutt City Crazyman was a case of something old and something new as some of the newest and oldest stars of the sport dominated a new-look course in what is one of New Zealand's longest running multisport races. Almost 400 endurance junkies from all ends of New Zealand lined up on a picture-postcard day in Lower Hutt this weekend for the 22nd Hutt City Crazyman. And while racing went the way of the pre-race favourites, a new course took everyone pleasantly by surprise. Established in 1991, the list of past winners is like a who's-who of the sport: world champions such as Richard Ussher, Jill Westenra, Gordon Walker, Emily Miazga, Nathan Fa'avae, Elina Ussher, Kristina Anglem, Alex Stewart and Steve Gurney have all won the annual Lower Hutt event.
Westenra, who lives in Lower Hutt right next to the Crazyman course, first won the Crazyman way back in 1998 and went on to win the famous Speight's Coast to Coast on four consecutive occasions. Fourteen years later she turned out for a trot over a new-look Crazyman.
Land owner issues and rising costs of compliance for things such as traffic management forced organisers to break from 22 years of tradition to an almost entirely new course in 2012. The opening 13k kayak section was similar, paddling in reverse from Eastbourne to Petone across the eastern bays of Wellington Harbour. But the mountain bike and trail run sections shifted from the Hutt Valley's eastern skyline across to the western slopes of Belmont Regional Park, with the mountain bike taking in the 442m high Boulder Hill and the run taking in the stunning Korokoro Dam area.
At age 47 Jill Westenra showed she's game for new challenges, but made short work of her challengers, outclassing Nelson up and comer Helen Chittenden by a minute or two on each discipline to win by seven minutes in 4hrs 48min 30secs. Chittenden, who won the 2010 Crazyman event, was game throughout, finishing the 13k kayak across Wellington Harbour less than two minutes down, then losing just over two minutes on both the 30k mountain bike up the Hutt River Trail and over Belmont Regional Park, and the final 13k run across Belmont Trig and Korokoro Stream to the finish on Petone Foreshore.
The racing among men panned out similarly with race favourite James Coubrough using hometown advantage to good effect to take a 17min win ahead of Picton's Dan Moore and Wellington's Andrew Bevin. Coubrough and Moore have been two of the fastest-improving multisporters on the national scene in recent years. Both had previously finished second at the Crazyman and in 2011 Coubrough beat Moore in the two-day race at the Speight's Coast to Coast. Since then, however, Coubrough, has made bigger strides to win several major North Island races before claiming a close fourth in his debut in the Speight's Coast to Coast one-day world title race this year.
At the Crazyman Coubrough was a class above. On the kayak he opened up five minutes on Moore, only to have Moore claw back 21secs on the mountain bike section. But no one was ever going to catch Coubrough on the run and the former national mountain running rep added more than 11 minutes to his lead to win his first Hutt City Crazyman in 3hrs 48min 52secs.
In other racing local mountain bike standout Alex Revell dominated the duathlon option in 3hrs 43min 24secs, while Roxburgh's Kath Kelly held out Wellington's Fiona Dowling by two minutes to win the women's duathlon in 3hrs 31min 41secs. Among teams Porirua's Marianne Archer and Wellington twins Sally and Helen Anderson claimed their fifth consecutive women's team title, with Archer showing the way by finishing finishing fourth overall in the opening kayak section.
While Coubrough and co were impressive, however, further back in the field two locals were making Crazyman history. Thirteen year old Wellingtonian Thomas Newmann looked as fresh as a daisy when he became the youngest ever Crazyman finisher in 6hrs 25min 47secs. But 40 minutes earlier Lower Hutt's John Wood had finished the 56k race in 5hrs 46min 13secs to become, at age 72, the oldest ever Crazyman finisher.
More Pictures (by sportzhub.com)
1. James Coubrough (NZL)
1. Jill Westenra (NZL)
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