The 31st Coast to Coast was meant to have been the Ussher show, with husband and wife Richard and Elina expected to defend their unique double from 12 months ago.
But when the dust had settled and the 243k cycle, mountain run and kayaking race across New Zealand's South Island had been conquered, multisport had two new world champions.
Fine and mild conditions greeted the 127 entrants from eight countries as they lined up on the West Coast's Kumara Beach for the One Day World Championship event. With brisk northwest winds behind them, racing got off to a torrid start.
On the opening 3k run from the beach to road bikes, 12 men established a lead that would shape the race to come. On the 55k cycle the leaders worked well together to build a 10min lead on a large chase bunch of almost 30 riders.
The record books will show Wanaka's Dougal Allen was first into transition, with a course record time of 1hr 35min 11secs. But it was fellow Wanaka athlete, Braden Currie, who pushed the pace as the field swapped bikes for running shoes.
The 26-year-old sprinted off up the Deception river bed toward Goat Pass, opening up almost a minute in just three kilometres. Ussher looked comfortable in second place, but found himself playing pace maker for Allan, Whakatane's Sam Clark and Nelson's Trevor Voyce. But rather than Ussher who gave chase, it was the unassuming Voyce.
Currie would crest Goat Pass with a sizeable six minute lead over Voyce, with another minute back to Ussher, Allan and Clark. Sending this might be Usshers day, Allan assumed third place ahead of Ussher.
Currie, however, was unstoppable. "I went into the race thinking I needed to get 15min on Richard in the run because he's a better kayaker than me," said Currie. Last year he put 20 minutes on me in the kayak. So I just decided to smash the run and see what happened."
What happened was that Currie finished the 34k mountain run nine minutes ahead of Voyce in a lightening 2hrs 53min 44secs. Allan was another two minutes further back, while Ussher stayed attentive another minute in arrears.
They started the 67k kayak down the Waimakariri River with the same time gaps, but Ussher immediately went to work on Currie's lead. Slowly but surely he clawed back time, passing Allan and eventually pulling Currie back to a six minute margin.
At Mt White Bridge, the end of the kayak section, Ussher was trailing by six minutes. But Currie was faster through the long transition from the river to bikes for the final 70k road cycle to the Sumner beach finish line.
On the bike it turned into a race of attrition, with Ussher closing the lead again to six minutes and then five minutes. But Currie responded and held exactly the same pace. Results would later show less than 10 seconds separated their performances on this section.
But for Ussher this was not enough, as Currie burst through the finish tape with 5min 46secs in hand.
Currie powered the final few kilometres through Christchurch and he eventually burst through the tape with a victorious in 11 hours 06min 51secs. Ussher followed in second place, 5min 46secs down on Currie.
Behind Ussher Dougal Allan added a bronze to his previous three silver medals in 11hrs 21min 32secs. Sam Clark filled fourth in 11hrs 30min14secs, just three minutes ahead of early pace maker Trevor Voyce.
The woman's race at this year's Coast to Coast was tipped as a rematch between defending champion Elina Ussher and 2011 champion Sophie Hart, both from Nelson. But Hart simply made no race of it.
Stopping the clock in 12hrs 36min 19secs, Hart was an exhausted but happy winner. Im pretty stoked, she grinned shyly.
I felt more pressure than when I won two years ago. Once you have won this race you cant fly under the radar.