Sprinter goes for the long haul

Olympic skele­ton racer Katharine Eus­tace is tack­ling the De­fi­ance.

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

Once upon a time, if you blinked you would miss Olympian Katharine Eus­tace as she whizzed past at more than 100 kilo­me­tres an hour on a skele­ton sled.

Now you might have to zoom in on her with binoc­u­lars from the top of a moun­tain if you want to see her in her new sport of ad­ven­ture rac­ing.

The 39-year-old phys­io­ther­a­pist has re­turned to a pas­sion she aban­doned more than seven years ago to pur­sue her ice track dreams. She has teamed up with Wanaka builder Kris Mayen, 35, to tackle the two-day Red Bull De­fi­ance Ad­ven­ture Race in Wanaka at Labour Week­end.

After years of sprint train­ing she is en­joy­ing the change of pace.

‘‘It’s longer! And harder! After four seconds of sprint­ing and then ly­ing down I’ve gone to six hours of bik­ing and run­ning up­hill and down­hill. It’s multi-dis­ci­plinary. I’m work­ing with a team. It is prob­a­bly the fur­thest apart two sports you could get,’’ she said.

Eus­tace has not called time on skele­ton rac­ing but is keen to save some money this year and re­view her win­ter sports strat­egy.

‘‘It is nice to be rac­ing on my back doorstep against other world-class ath­letes. Maybe it is not the end of skele­ton rac­ing. Just a break,’’ she said.

Although they have known each other for years, it is the first time Eus­tace and Mayen have raced to­gether.

They’ve called them­selves Can­ter­bury Bil­tong for this week­end, in hon­our of the company which has given them a large con­sign­ment of beer sticks to chew on while rac­ing.

Mayen said when they race the Godzone next year, they’ll be adopt­ing the name of an ex­tinct bird – the Haast Ea­gles – un­less they find more spon­sors.

Mayen took up mul­ti­sport five years ago after break­ing his back in a ski­ing ac­ci­dent.

‘‘This sur­geon told me I had to start swimming so I did the Chal­lenge in a team. The next year I de­cided to do the Chal­lenge by my­self. Then I de­cided Chal­lenge was bor­ing,’’ he said.

He teamed up with Eus­tace’s part­ner Si­mon Bow­den for the 24-hour race in Cromwell for the last cou­ple of years and was chuffed when they fin­ished sec­ond in the open men’s race last year.

Mayen first raced the Godzone last year in a team of four and de­spite one team-mate pulling out through ill­ness, his team was able to con­tinue and com­plete the course.

While ad­ven­ture sport is not usu­ally very spec­ta­tor friendly, due to the ter­rain, the Red Bull De­fi­ance is dif­fer­ent in that there will be op­por­tu­ni­ties to see the ath­letes from pub­lic roads. Rac­ing fin­ishes in the cen­tre of town on both days.

Photo: MAR­JORIE COOK/FAIR­FAX NZ 630059889)

Tough team: Olympian skele­ton racer Katharine Eus­tace of Wanaka has teamed up with Wanaka builder Kris Mayen for a crack at the two day Red Bull De­fi­ance Ad­ven­ture Race this week­end. What: Red Bull De­fi­ance Ad­ven­ture Race Where: Wanaka and sur­rounds When: Fri­day and Satur­day To­tal prize pool: $40,000 How many: Ath­letes, 80 (40 teams of 2); vol­un­teers, 50 a day; kilo­me­tres, 153.25 More info: red­bullde­fi­ance.co.nz

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