New Zealand’s Richard Ussher will not return to Rotorua to defend his title at Saturday’s XTERRA New Zealand Championship.
“Had to pull the pin on XTERRA today,” said Ussher on twitter, “shoulder still not right (injured after a race in Abu Dhabi one month ago).”
Scott Thorne, the 2009 runner-up who only lost to Ussher by 31 seconds, has now become the race favourite, followed by fellow Kiwis Mark Leishman (third last year), and 18-year-old Michael Poole (winner of the 2010 Port of Tauranga Half Ironman). Another fast athlete to watch is Japan’s Yu Yumoto (who finished who finished fourth at Ironman Malaysia and second at XTERRA Japan last year.
Favoured for the women are the 2001 XTERRA World Champion Anke Erlank from South Africa, and Australia’s Ironman and Adventure Racing champion Christine Sym from Australia.
Erlank is now living in Matamata on the North Island of New Zealand where her Scottish husband manages a dairy farm. While her training routine hasn’t been as intense the last nine years – she is enjoying New Zealand’s training-friendly weather and is working mainly in the local sports center, running the swim club, teaching fitness classes and in her spare time heading just down the road to the Rotorua for some mountain biking. Sym will be coming into the race in great shape, finishing her 2009 season with a second place at Ironman Western Australia in December. Last year’s runner-up, Susie Wood (NZL), will be looking to take her first XTERRA title, losing last year by just two minutes to Nicola Leary.
For more information visit https://www.xterra.co.nz/