Wow, what an incredible day. Despite the proclamation by full distance winner Jamie Whyte that this was the hardest bike leg he has ever encountered due to the phenomenal head wind; it was still an amazing day to experience. By the time I ran back to the finish line, I had missed John Gordon running in to finish the half with his Yohei sumo suit dressed employees flanking him to cross the finish line and win the 50-59 year age division. Luckily, I was in time to catch the Racers Edge team runner, Jess Simson, sprint across leading the team to an impressive 3rd place finish in the mixed category and 6th place overall out of 132 teams! We are all extremely proud of our team and how they managed to battle through what even the pro athletes thought to be a challenging race, and finish strong.
After the leaders came in from the half, we all took a little lunch break waiting for the iron distance athletes to make their way towards the finish line after over 9 hours of competition. We returned around 3:00pm to see local hero Simone Maier rounding the half run mark and starting on the second lap of the 42.2k run. It wasn’t long before we heard the helicopter – the same helicopter that powered up at 6:30am that morning to begin its mission to follow the leader around the whole course and provide up to date information for the commentators to pass on to the spectators (otherwise what would they talk about for over 15 hours on the mic??).
As Jamie Whyte drew close to rounding the last corner, the already buzzing street came alive with anticipation. Balconies were packed, the once speckled stadium seats were overflowing, and we had to throw elbows to maintain our spot on the barricade by the finish line. The sound that followed Jamie down the straight away was like a roaring wave ascending toward us. By the time we could lean out far enough to actually see him, the sound was astonishing. Everyone in Wanaka was cheering, clapping and banging those strange blow up tubes together to encourage him over the threshold of
the finish line. The onslaught of cameras and media waiting to capture the moment was tremendous, and they erupted into melody of flashes the moment he grasped the finish line tape and proudly paraded it in the air.
The most amazing part of Jamie Whytes inspiring 9:03:53 finish was not just that he was a good 4 minutes ahead of second place, but the fact that he was able to give a very coherent and well spoken interview within moments of finishing! You’d think he would need a few minutes to, I don’t know, catch his breath!? But this man embodied the essence of the endurance athlete and was answering questions without even a heavy breath…amazing.
To top my astonishment, an hour and a half later, Simone Maier reappeared in the straight away towards the finish line. This put things into perspective – how long would it take you to run 21.1k? Let alone after an iron length swim, the hardest bike leg ever, and a half marathon. Yet here she was just an hour and a half after we watched her round the half way mark closing in on the finish line as the second place female. The Wanaka crowd loved this, especially as the commentators reported that she was last seen in third and closing in on the second place spot. I think the roar was equal if not greater than the output for first place as she jogged down the straight away surrounded by the green balloon runners that escorted the athletes to the finish line. I was inspired.
The last athlete finished with a time of 17:25:53 – that is seventeen and a half hours of constant exercise. All day other onlookers were saying that it takes a special breed of people to compete in an event like this, and after watching it from the sidelines; I think that’s an understatement. The time, dedication and determination that is devoted to this sport, let alone the fact that you have to invest money into three different disciplines, would be enough to detour the majority of people. But these competitors have persevered and invested their heart, blood and soul into, for some of them, just crossing that finish line. This kind of courage is to be admired, and while I may never be able to truly understand what these people have gone through, I respect the hell out of them for doing it. Racers Edge is proud to be the official bike leg sponsor of this event, and I am just honored to have been in Wanaka to experience it.
It was beautiful calm sunny days leading up to the big Challenge Wanaka event; but at 6:30am this morning the overcast skies and strong wind gusts were beginning to settle in. But this didn’t detour the spectators from flocking in droves to watch this prestigious triathlon. I couldn’t believe how busy the town was at 7 o’clock in the morning! There was over a half hour wait for coffee in any café, and the streets and lake front were packed with eager onlookers. The atmosphere was contagious and you couldn’t help but get sucked into the vibe of admiration for these incredible endurance athletes.
The full iron distance competitors were already in the water when we arrived, and we had to push through the crowd to get a good view of the hundreds of swim caps bobbing in the choppy
Wanaka lake. We watched at the transition area as they jogged out of the icy cold lake stripping as they grabbed their bags and made a speedy journey up and over the bridge to mount their bikes for the 180k ride. Next came the Lake Wanaka Half athletes then the teams quick on their heels and even overtaking despite their later start time.
There is no way to convey the intensity and determination that these athletes were exuding as they transitioned into their next discipline. Also the age range is astounding! There is a team with the collective age of 207 competing in the full distance race, now that is impressive. There was also a small boy who came into Racers Edge for his bike check, but when the staff member tried to explain that they didn’t need stickers for the
junior event, he proudly explained that he was competing in the
Challenge event…at 15! Keep an eye on that one.
While we are only mid way through this race, I have to say that this has been an incredibly motivating experience thus far and am so proud that the Racers Edge team is doing so well! Charles Cochrane has just come in from the bike leg leading the team to a current 5th place standing, and Jess Simson is on the run hoping to maintain if not better that spot. The wind is definitely picking up and there have been rumors that the Lake Hawea elbow turn is yielding a few casualties – not a good day to have those disk wheels!
I just got word that Jess is nearing the finish line! Stay tuned for a full update and results for this incredible event, because I gotta get back out there and watch! =)
This was the kind of day that everyone dreams about when they think of a summer in Wanaka. No wind, not a cloud in the sky, beautifully warm but not too hot – absolutely perfect. We set out towards the Aspiring National Park on a mission to hike up the Matukituki Valley to the historic Aspiring hut and back again.
After passing Treble Cone ski resort, we hit the gravel road that may have needed a bit of a re-grade, but the pot holes made the 30 minute drive a lot more interesting! We passed every type of livestock found in New Zealand, from your normal sheep and cows to reindeer and venison…well deer at this point. We admired the amazing waterfalls sprouting out from nowhere, and survived several swollen fords that threatened unsuccessfully to trap our little Toyota station wagon.
Finally, the road came to a dead end and we gaped at the absolutely packed Raspberry Flat parking lot – not a space in sight! We couldn’t understand how such a remote location could harvest so many people, but we learned that this trail head serviced many tramps and huts, including the Rob Roy Glacier hike and several other huts beyond Aspiring. Like any good group of girls, we made our own parking space in the middle of the lot and got geared up for our mission.
The sign said the walk would take 2 hours to get to the hut; however, as we were not weighed down with heavy packs and hiking boots, it only took us 1.5. We did stop a lot on the way for a few pictures of the meandering cows and sheep along the trail, and were all relieved that our Icebreaker Merino tops (and Nature undergarments) were much more breathable then the sheep’s unshorn coats. We also attempted to leap across the many creeks and streams along the way, but eventually we gave up and just trudged through the middle of them – practicing safe river crossing techniques of course.
We also stopped to admire the Leon Bridge built be the Phease family in honour of their son who was lost in a tragic tramping accident farther up the Matukituki Valley.
Just around the corner from the newly constructed bridge is a privately owned hut that can be very misleading from farther up the valley – we thought we it was the real hut! Once we passed the private hut, it was just another 20 minutes through some squishy swamp land and towards the gorgeous Dart Glacier and then we arrived at the newly renovated Aspiring Hut.
The facility was amazing with a new bathroom block, beautiful remodelled stone bunk and an
absolutely breath taking view. After a quick snack and rest in the shade, we were off again back down the valley towards Wanaka. The hike didn’t feel the same at all going back as all the scenery was dramatically different from the new angle and we spotted hidden waterfalls that had eluded us on our initial journey. We also found the perfect swimming hole in the fast moving Matukituki River, which had an ideal jumping rock into the refreshing aqua coloured pool. We vowed to come back and try it out.
After debating riding a cow, deciding against the idea, and instead attempting to pet a sheep, we arrived back at Raspberry Flat in just over 1.5 hours from the hut. We were all surprised as the walk back felt much faster than the hike in, but were relieved to take off our soaking wet shoes and socks and to see that the once packed lot was now virtually empty. We were also relieved to have all been wearing the odourless Icebreaker for the hour car ride back to Wanaka.
Overall, we felt this 3-4 hour hike was a great way to spend a beautiful summer day. It was casual yet still a great workout and we look forward to having a two day excursion next time to hike out to the French Ridge Hut and have a swim in the hidden pool…what a rough life!
Despite the forecast for a rainy weekend, the morning of Saturday December
11th was sunny, calm and beautiful. Tents were set up by the transition area for spectators to escape the heat and the event attracted some great competition as well as some first time racers. It was Phyziques’ goal to introduce this sport to wider public in a beautiful and safe environment of Dublin Bay. The diverse field of athletes ranged from 14 year old Millie Gordon, to 69 year old veteran David Strang – who is very much looking forward to his 70th birthday so that he can really be a BlueSeventy!
After a quick debrief with organizer and owner of Phyzique Gym, Pete Legnavsky, the competitors began the short walk through knee deep water to the starting buoy. A 400m chest deep swim across the glassy bay started in a flash of BlueSeventy wetsuits and powerful splashes. Mid way through the swim, the infamous Wanaka wind began to pick up creating an interesting challenge for the competitors by varying the conditions from glassy to choppy water. This ended up being a great learning experience for
athletes that had not had the opportunity to brave the Lake Wanaka waves. The change of conditions didn’t seem to put a damper on the overall enthusiasm of the onlookers, or the unyielding determination of the competitors. Sixteen year old Lake Hawean Alex Dodds took an early lead setting the bar high for the swim with a time of 8:39. He was followed closely by Duncan White (9:58) and local IronMan and Yohei owner John Gordon (10:06). Jo Williams and teams member Leigh Cooper were ahead of the pack for the women putting in an impressive swim time of 10:27 and 10:26 respectively, followed by Samantha Collis (12:32) and Ann Scanlan (12:50).
The swim was followed by a quick transition onto the bikes to begin the 11.5km ride through some challenging mountainous terrain ending with a sprint along the gravel road back to the beach. Once all the Triathlon competitors were on their bikes, the 6 duathlon athletes began the bike portion of their competition. It wasn’t too long after the duathlon athletes set off that Alex Dodds was back in the transition area, with a smooth as silk manoeuvre out of his biking
gear and into his running shoes; this talented young athlete did not waste a second. Three minutes later, John Gordon was the second man back at the transition area with a time of 26:32. Despite a flat tyre and some costly minutes repairing her puncture, Jo Williams was hot on Johns’ heels with a time of 26:45 for the bike leg. The teams posted impressive times as well with Jon Mctaggart coming in at a staggering 26:08 and Leigh Rowely with a great time of 28:40.
No sooner had the last runner left the transition area, Mr. Dodds was back with a time of 29:51 for the run, and an overall time of 1:01:56; just 4 minutes shy of the track record. John Gordon had an impressive sprint time of 29:10 slotting him into second place with an overall time of 1:04:48. Jo Williams
was first in for the woman with an overall time of 1:08:20 and Brent Ewing finished with a
strong run leading his team (John Mctaggart and Jordon Halby) to a win in the teams division with an overall time of 1:11:50. For the Duathlon athletes, local ski hero Hamish
McDougall proved he is a stellar summer athlete as well taking the win with an overall time of 1:13:17. Carloine Irvine took the first for the woman with a time of 1:16:13.
Athletes received an impressive prize pack from the race sponsors, and everyone walked away with a goody of some sort in addition to the satisfaction of completing the course.
The Phyzique Offroad Challenge was a huge success yielding happy and accomplished athletes with an overall sense of achievement on the day. We look forward to sponsoring this event again next year, and supporting Phyzique’s excellent challenge.
Twenty-one staff, one helicopter, a bluebird day, and an empty mountain. This is the scene that the Racer’s Edge crew faced early on Monday morning as we embarked on our annual staff heli day.
Despite a hectic closing day at Treble Cone the day prior, we all arrived bright eyed and eager at the T.C. car park, ready for what quickly became one the best days of our winter season.
Snow conditions were perfect – beautiful spring corn met us on each run and the crew at Harris Mountain Heli-Ski timed each drop perfectly; the sun hit each run just before we skied it, ensuring we enjoyed firm spring conditions all day.
After four runs we stopped on the top of the mountain for champagne, nibbles, and a bit of cliff jumping for the more adventurous among us, then it was off again for the last few runs of the year.
The helicopter dropped us at the summit rocks for our final few turns, where we skied as one big group along the ridge, into the saddle, and down the empty mountain.
Exhausted, happy and hungry, we arrived back at base, piled into the cars and headed down to Glendu Bay for a late lunch and some beers in the sun. Those not worn out by the morning activities spent the rest of the day waterskiing, wake skating, kayaking, and enjoying the thrills of being strapped in a jet boat with Shaker at the helm.
The day ended with the “Shakedown Grand Final” – an arm wrestling competition we’ve been running between the workshop and shop staff over the last few months. Unsurprisingly, Shaker’s wiry strength dominated, showing us all that, while we may have let ourselves go over the colder months, he is well and truly prepared for the season of cycling and water sports ahead. Bring on the summer season!
George Pengelly is this years’ success story taking out this Southern hemisphere competition season! After an almost season ending injury, the 15 year old is back and has been dominating both the junior scene and open category in both Slopestyle and big mountain. George took out the Mt. Hutt Mini Shred in August which he hoped would prequalify him for Junior Nationals in Slopestyle. He went on to win the Chill Junior Big Mountain comp at Temple basin with this impressive run (CLICK HERE) which then qualified him to compete in the K2 Big Mountain Series. George was the only junior entered in this comp as all other competitors had to be over 18 to compete. This didn’t stop him from an impressive 10th place finish! George thought that “It was really cool to compete against some big NZ skiers and a lot of Europeans and to get a week off of school.”
This impressive streak continued with last weekend’s Black Diamond Big Mountain Comp where George slotted a 5th place victory in the Open class, and held his title as top Junior. This incredible season almost didn’t happen with a broken wrist on opening day sidelining George in a cast for the beginning of June. He managed to bounce back, train hard, and go on to have the most successful winter of his career. This achievement goes to show that hard work and determination can yield success off the back of a painful injury. Seeing how proactive and positive George Pengelly is, we look forward to posting more success stories detailing his many victories in the future.