First time rac­ers win event

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News -

It started out with want­ing to claim a lit­tle time out from their com­bined to­tal of seven kids and ended up with team 5 Min­utes Peace win­ning the Spring Chal­lenge North Taupo¯ 9-hour race on Satur­day.

Grin­ning with dis­be­lief as they ran across the Whakaipo Bay fin­ish line to find out they had won in a time of 9 hours 18 min­utes and 52 sec­onds, Var­nia Smith (Alexan­dra) and Amy El­wor­thy (Waikato) put their vic­tory down to their “amaz­ing nav­i­ga­tor” Olivia McLeod, of Blen­heim.

In their 80km race that in­volved a 6km raft down the Waikato River, a hike, two bikes, plus two ori­en­teer­ing stages, strat­egy be­came vi­tal as they en­tered the fi­nal stage in close prox­im­ity to the even­tual sec­ond and third placeget­ters Mak­ing Waves and Make it Dirt.

Olivia cred­ited their two ri­val teams for be­ing strong moun­tain bik­ers as she talked through her team’s rise up through the rank­ings.

“We got off to a good start first on the wa­ter, about sixth off then we just plod­ded along and paced our­selves, like Nathan [Fa’avae, event founder] told us last night. We came out of the for­est in third [on the stage five 11km moun­tain bike] and we just headed in on foot and just kept run­ning, was the se­cret,” she says.

They made a strate­gic de­ci­sion to go a dif­fer­ent way to the other teams through the fi­nal ori­en­teer­ing stage and “to be hon­est we didn’t re­alise we were first com­ing through the fin­ish — we thought we might have been sec­ond”, Var­nia says.

Adding to their achieve­ment was the fact they have never teamed up be­fore, Amy says.

“Ac­tu­ally this is our first race to­gether. We didn’t do any rac­ing to­gether as a team, lead­ing up to this which is un­real.”

Mak­ing Waves’ Nixie Boddy says she and her team­mates Ni­cole Symons, also of Christchurch, and Hok­i­tika’s Kat Reynolds were happy with their per­for­mance.

Their favourite part was “eas­ily the moun­tain bik­ing. We are all moun­tain bik­ers. Just the tech­ni­cal­ity of it was right up our al­ley,” Ni­cole says.

Team Make it Dirt — Anna Bar­rett, of Maketu, plus Heather Lo­gie and Ly­dia Hale, both of Ro­torua — had led off the raft and had a nine-minute buf­fer go­ing into stage 4, the 6km ori­en­teer­ing ac­tiv­ity. They held the lead un­til the end of the fi­nal moun­tain bike.

Spring Chal­lenge event man­ager Wendy van den Berg was im­pressed with the num­ber of women do­ing the event for the first time. Now in its third year in the North Is­land, the Spring Chal­lenge Taupo¯ at­tracted the high­est num­ber of en­tries up north to date. In to­tal there were 247 teams rac­ing.

Wendy de­scribes the course, which was com­pleted in cool, calm con­di­tions as “quite tech­ni­cal”.

“It was def­i­nitely not on the easy side — quite a chal­leng­ing course. Sin­gle track rid­ing in the Craters of the Moon moun­tain bike park, for ex­am­ple, might not have been ev­ery­one’s forte but I think the com­peti­tors did re­ally well em­brac­ing the chal­lenge. Thanks to all the landown­ers, vol­un­teers, Taupo¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil and the lo­cal waka ama club for pro­vid­ing a great feast at the fin­ish line.”

While the 2019 Spring Chal­lenge South event in Cromwell is al­ready sold out, the 2019 Spring Chal­lenge North des­ti­na­tion will be an­nounced shortly.

Photo / Sup­plied

De­spite hav­ing never raced to­gether be­fore team 5 Min­utes Peace, pic­tured here on a hik­ing stage of Spring Chal­lenge Taupo¯ last Satur­day, won the 9-hour cat­e­gory.

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