Ath­letes strug­gle in soaked Mo­tat­apu

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Amas­sive lead dis­ap­peared only 300 me­tres from the fin­ish line for Alexan­dra cy­clist James Wil­liamson in one of the slow­est Mo­tat­apu moun­tain­bike races in the event’s 11-year his­tory.

It was a mud-cov­ered Mike Craw­ford, of Preb­ble­ton, who took line honours af­ter a rain drenched 47 kilo­me­tres through back coun­try sta­tions be­tween Glendhu Bay and Ar­row­town.

While de­lighted with his win, the 33-year-old tax ad­viser felt the agony for Wil­liamson whom he passed run­ning and car­ry­ing his bro­ken bike about 300m from the fin­ish line.

‘‘I feel I’ve robbed him to a cer­tain ex­tent but part of this race is get­ting your equip­ment up to stan­dard so it’s a to­tal pack­age sort of race.’’

A gut­ted Wil­liamson, 25, was com­pletely on his own ahead of over 2800 rid­ers for most of the race bat­tling thick mud and high rivers un­til he was ne­go­ti­at­ing a steep decline about three kilo­me­tres from the fin­ish line.

‘‘My chain just snapped and pinged off,’’ he said.

Un­able to con­tinue cy­cling he picked up his bike and ran the rest of the way.

A first time en­trant last year, he placed fourth af­ter his bike broke just be­fore the fin­ish line.

‘‘I’m pretty gut­ted. I was re­ally hop­ing to win it this year.’’ Craw­ford’s fin­ish­ing time of 2.18.00 was more than 30 min­utes be­hind the course record due to the wet con­di­tions. Brent Miller of Christchurch was third in 2.21.41.

In the women’s race, Olympic hope­ful Kate Fluker was first over the line in a time of 2.40.23, af­ter set­ting the course record last year in a time of 2.08.

‘‘I’m dis­gust­ing,’’ the mud­splat­tered, soaked, Queen­stowner said on the fin­ish line.

‘‘It was so much slower through there. It’s just so wet . . . The rivers were re­ally high – prob­a­bly up to my waist some of the time. They were fast mov­ing – it was quite scary at times.’’

The 27-year-old has just re­turned from Australia where she was sec­ond in the Ocea­nia moun­tain­bik­ing champs and won a round at the na­tional champs.

‘‘I’m feel­ing re­ally good but to­day was a chal­lenge. I’m not wor­ried [about my time] – I’m not slower than last year, I’ve im­proved.’’

The Speight’s Moun­tain Bike race was the first of five events held through Mo­tat­apu Sta­tion to fin­ish on Satur­day.

There were 4567 reg­is­tered com­peti­tors, with 2000 of those rac­ing in the Tor­pedo7 Adventure Run, XTERRA UDC Fi­nance Triathlon, Ice­breaker Off Road Marathon and Ar­row­ Min­ers Trail.

Wanaka contestants dom­i­nated the triathlon with Dou­gal Al­lan first in the pro­fes­sional men’s event (4.27.41) and Jess Sim­son and Si­mone Maier first equal in the women’s (5.32.36).

Heavy rain and ris­ing rivers forced or­gan­is­ers to put their con­tin­gency plans in place and change the fin­ish line at the Ar­row River, af­fect­ing the course, tim­ing and re­sults for age-group fin­ish­ers.

St John Am­bu­lance treated about 110 pa­tients.

Cen­tral Otago ter­ri­tory manager Kelvin Per­ri­man said about 40 peo­ple were treated on the course be­tween Glendhu Bay and Ar­row­town, while an­other 70 were treated at the Wil­cox Green con­trol cen­tre. Four ath­letes were flown off the course by he­li­copter to the Lakes Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal – two with foot in­juries, one with a head in­jury and one with a back in­jury – while an­other four peo­ple were taken by road am­bu­lance to hos­pi­tal from Wil­cox Green. Two of those peo­ple were spec­ta­tors who suf­fered a med­i­cal emer­gency.


Re­lieved: Wanaka mul­ti­sporters Jess Sim­son (left) and Si­mone Maier were first equal in the Mo­tat­apu Xterra triathlon on Satur­day.

Gut­ted: Alexan­dra cy­clist James Wil­liamson was pipped at the post and came in sec­ond in the Mo­tat­apu moun­tain­bike race on Satur­day.

Tough: Kate Fluker was the first woman to com­plete the 47km Mo­tat­apu moun­tain­bike race.

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