Kathmandu Coast to Coast - O’Donnell claims maiden women’s title


The Kathmandu Coast to Coast has a new elite women’s champion after Tauranga’s

claimed the 38th Longest Day title, fighting off a chasing pack to win the 243-kilometre stage race in twelve hours 53 minutes and 39 seconds.

Credit Kathmandu Coast to Coast

It was O’Donnell’s fourth crack at the event, beating event first timer Ali Wilson by just 3 minutes 05 and Christchurch’s Fiona Dowling who crossed the finish line just a minute over 13 hours to earn a third-place finish for the third time. “I know Ali is an awesome cyclist, so I was pretty worried on the bike.”  

O’Donnell was a little unsure of her chances of holding onto her lead, but suggested the cold conditions played into her hands. “I was feeling pretty average on the run, it might have been my slowest run time I’ve done over the course, so after the run I was just like let’s see how the day goes."

 “It was pretty rough, and I guess I like those sorts of conditions, so I was like, oh, this is my year, I’m just going to go for it.”

The difference between the two coming down to a little more experience in the kayak for O'Donnell than Wilson, whose background has been in triathlon and who only started kayaking a year ago. “I managed to stay in the boat, but there was a few closer calls than I would have liked.”

“I went for a swim, haha, that bloody wind was strong,” said Wilson referring to falling out of her kayak.

“That wind just blew down that gorge and pushed me on to a rock and I went for a spill and it was bloody freezing.”

Wilson also went for a swim during the first major river crossing in the 32 kilometre run section, losing her footing and being swept around 5 meters downstream before regaining control. “Yeah, I went for a good old swim, but fair play to the organisers not letting the 2 day competitors go down there (yesterday) because it was very touch and go.”

Wilson summed up her first Kathmandu Coast to Coast; “It was brutal, there’s just no let up, but I’ll be back.”

“It’s getting a bit tough to handle actually,” Dowling said whilst still catching her breath at the finish line as she was quizzed about her 3rd place finish.

"I was pretty disappointed with my mountain run today, I just didn’t run very well, I feel like my form was better than I showed today, leading into it my course showed that I should have still run as good as last year but I think just the high rivers and the slow run just doesn’t suit me too well. But that’s just an excuse, I didn’t run too well," Dowling admitted.

Four-time Longest Day champion Elina Ussher finished in fourth in what was her 15th consecutive Kathmandu Coast to Coast.

While Wanaka’s Emily Wilson came home in 5th in a time of 13 hours 29 minutes and 24 seconds.

Dunedin’s Alisa Rollinson finished in 6th.