Whitby teen mixing it with best at Karapoti
A Whitby teenager showed no respect for age in this year’s Karapoti Classic.
Thirteen-year-old Eden Cruise never gave an inch to the pro-elite division heavy-weights in the arduous 50km race, hanging in and challenging for the lead well into the race.
New Zealand representative Dirk Peters, of Rotorua eventually took charge along Deadwood Ridge, taking only Wellington number one, Ed Crossling, with him but still Cruise hung onto the chasing bunch and eventually finished in sixth place.
Despite his apparently tender years, the year- 9 St Patrick’s College town student was on familiar ground.
Four years before, as a 9-year-old, he had been the youngest to ever complete the classic.
Karapoti organiser Michael Jacques said Cruise showed many similarities to the reigning junior world champion, Anton Cooper of Rotorua.
Both had raced Karapoti from early ages but Cruise’s time this year, at 13, of 2 hours 37 min 27 seconds was significantly faster than Cooper’s 2009 time at 14, 2h44m8s in similar conditions.
‘‘The big thing really is is what Eden does in the next two years,’’ he said.
‘‘When they get to 15 or 16 you really get to see what they are going to be like in adulthood. It’s going to be very interesting in the next couple of years.’’
Cruise said he started riding when he was eight and his biggest win to date was the under-15 class in the Oceania Mountain Bike Cup event, held in Rotorua last year.
This weekend he is off to Hobart to race the Oceania Championships, along with Olympian Karen Hanlen and local international Samara Sheppard.
Cruise said he trains five or six times each week, at Makara Peak, or locally, at Battle Hill or Colonial Knob.
Two or three rides are interval sessions to build strength and power, and the others are focussed on fun and skill development.
‘‘I’ll focus on cornering fast for two weeks – I just ride and push the corners.’’
It is possible to make up a lot of time cornering fast in downhill sections, he said.
Cruise has had a few crashes but said he hadn’t broken a bone – ‘‘yet’’. His race strategy was straightforward. ‘‘I try to just go hard from the start. If there is somebody with me I try to drop them off at the end.’’
Cruise plays rugby for St Patrick’s and the school coaches coaxed him back into running for the regional secondary school athletic championships last week but he prefers mountain biking.
‘‘I think it would be cool to race the World Championships and Olympics,’’ he said.
Cruise control: Eden Cruise, 13, of Whitby, on his way to sixth place overall in the Karapoti Classic.