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Kiwi Pro triathlete Richard Ussher puts Tri career on hold & returns to adventure racing

Posted Jan 28 2011 4:53pm

Usser1

After one of the most eagerly awaited and anticipated debuts in Ironman Triathlon in recent years, and despite great success, New Zealand’s Richard Ussher announced this week that he was returning to his roots and will compete in the Speight’s Coast to Coast, the World’s premier multisport event, an event which he has won three times in the past.

Usser is a former freestyle skier who represented New Zealand at the 1998 Winter Olympics. The Kiwi took up adventure racing and quickly racked up an impressive resume including twice Adventure Racing World Champion, three time Champion of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge and three time Coast to Coast winner.

It was after his last Coast to Coast win in 2008 and a perceived lack of competition in the adventure racing scene that prompted Ussher to enter and race Ironman New Zealand just three weeks later. Seventh place in 8:48 and lots of lessons learned, 2009 saw him finish 5th at Ironman New Zealand (8:35:55), win XTERRA New Zealand and finish 3rd at Challenge Roth in a scorching 8:02:15 making him the fastest New Zealand Triathlete over the Iron distance.

Usser resume includes a course record at Challenge Wanaka last year followed by an indifferent race at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon, an 8th place at Roth, and a 7th at XTERRA Worlds in Maui.

The writing was on the wall when he didn’t defend his Wanaka title this year due to multisports commitments (although he did the cycle leg of the dream team Tri Stars which included Youth Olympic Champ Aaron Barclay and NZ marathon champ Shireen Crumpton).

Usser2 EverymanTri caught up with Richard to find out the reasons he’s putting his Triathlon career on hold for the moment....

I'm looking forward to going back to the Coast in a couple of weeks but I also plan on competing in some more Iron distance racing in the future and also Xterra is high on the plans for 2011. The change is more about trying to have a bit of break from the road tris and recharge the batteries mentally as well as physically

Do you find Ironman hard to make a living from and how does the world of Multisport differ?

Ironman is a hard sport to make a living from, especially if you are not right at the top. The decision to try the Ironman racing was due mainly to wanting to try and extend my limits and try something different for a while but I am not as suited to it as the off road versions of the sport as I haven't been able to get my swimming to a really competitive level.

This has also been accentuated with a lot more ITU guys coming into the sport and that has raised the swim speeds further and made it much harder to chase on the bike and run as there are bigger groups up front pacing off each other. The main difference between the sports are that in Multisport and Adventure racing there swimming is usually substituted with Kayaking and there are no set distances. The courses are designed to fit the terrain available and can also include other sports or MTB instead of Road or TT biking.

Usser3 Can you do more races, is it less taxing or are the sponsors/ship opportunities better?

“Yes that is one of issues I found with trying to race the Iron distance races was that doing a lot of other racing impacted on the results a lot and I just found I couldn't recover as fast as from the events I am use to. The sponsorship is quite similar but there are no events with large prize?"

Can you do more races, is it less taxing or are the sponsors/ship opportunities better?

Yes that is one of issues I found with trying to race the Iron distance races was that doing a lot of other racing impacted on the results a lot and I just found I couldn't recover as fast as from the events I am use to. The sponsorship is quite similar but there are no events with large prize money like in Kona”.

Do you feel that Multisport, adventure racing and Xterra has come on or changed much in the time you've been away from it?

Not really - I have kept up some racing in all the different forms but it will be interesting to see how it is going back to such a specific race like the Coast to Coast and to see what impact 3 years away from the race will have made”.

With his nemesis Gordon Walker not returning to defend his title Ussher will start as favorite with his most likely competition coming from last years runner up Dougal Allen.

Also racing is Ussher’s wife Elina (who he coached to victory last year). As well as a win for Team Subway they could also become the first husband and wife to win the race in the same year!

The Speight’s Coast to Coast takes place on Febuary 12th.

* Our British Bureau chief, Danny Ward, filed the story.

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