The Karioi Classic event is attracting increasing numbers of older cyclists, say organisers of the annual Raglan race.
Lisa Thomson, who organised Sunday’s event with Dirk De Ruysscher, said most of the 226 entries for the cycle part of the race were from 40 to 59-year-olds. The oldest competitor was 70.
This year, cyclists could choose to do the 43km cycle around the Mount Karioi or the 57km route. The longer ride was the more popular choice of older riders, with 12 entries from 60 to 64-year-olds and seven cyclists over 65 years.
“I think people realise what it is to be fit [as they get older],” Lisa said. “They just think ‘I’m going to stay healthy and fit’ and they just go for it. It’s incredibly inspiring.”
The older women were competitive too. Kirsten Milne from Te Awamutu (40-49 years division) was 26 minutes ahead of her closest, and younger, woman rival in the 43km run.
Amy Haddon (30-39 years) won the women’s 57km race, with the first 14 women over the finish line in that race aged 30 to 65 years and over. Sarah Backler (30-39 years) was the first woman home in the 43km cycle race.
But for the men, winning seemed to be more in the hands of the younger competitors.
The top male runner was Carl Fischer (18-29 years). The top place in the 57km race went to Sam Gaze, followed by two other 18-29 year-olds, and the 43km winner was Nathan Johnston from the 17 years and under division.
Raglan doctor Mike Loten, competing in the 43km race, came in first for his 40-49 age group and third overall for that race. His wife, Joan, was the fifth woman home and was the sole female competitor in the field on a single speed bike.
Thirty-two runners left the Raglan Fire Station at 7.30am on Sunday for their 43km route around Mount Karioi, running uphill, downhill, on gravel, and along the coast to finish, mud-splattered and exhausted, at the Raglan airfield.
Two hours later the 126 cyclists left for the 57km race, followed half an hour later by the 100 cyclists in the shorter 43km race.
A prize-giving ceremony was held later at the Raglan Club, where ceramic medals made by Raglan’s The Monster Company were given to the top three place-getters in each race. The fastest man and woman from both cycle races received $500 each and were made ‘king and queen’ with crowns made by local artist Chris Meek.
Lisa said the Karioi Classic race, which was now in its sixth year, had a loyal base of competitors, with about 70 percent of participants having done the cycle or run part of the race in previous years.
Dirk said they tried to do things a little bit differently each year so they could still attract competitors to their mid-winter event.