The inclusion of a running component in Sunday’s Karioi Classic meant a lot of extra logistical issues for organisers but showed potential for the future, says co-organiser Lisa Thomson.
For the first time in its five year history, the annual mountain bike race around Mount Karioi included a 44km marathon, which started earlier in the day and mostly followed a different course to the cyclists. Competitors said the balmy, calm weather on Sunday was perfect for the event – “not too cold and not too hot” – and both parts of the race were well organised and well run.
Lisa said the run was like a “silver lining” for the event, but she would have to discuss with fellow organiser Dirk De Ruysscher about whether they would keep that component in next year’s event. Double the number of volunteers and extra equipment were needed because of the run, which attracted about 50 competitors, so it was “a big logistical exercise”.
“We’re hosting people [competitors] in our home – in our backyard really – so we have to be conscious about safety,” she said.
Dirk said about 35 local volunteers helped on the day with registration, manning the four drink stations, acting as marshalls along the course, riding vehicles and helping at the finish line. The Raglan Pipe Band played to the competitors as they raced from the town, an ambulance was on site and a paramedic situated at the finish line.
“Our feedback was that the volunteers were just awesome and the ones around the course were so encouraging,” Lisa said.
Canadian Bryan Hipson, 48, won the run in a time of 3hr 17 min. His family was holidaying in New Zealand and changed their itinerary especially so Bryan could run in the race. “Some of those cow fields were … adventurous,” Bryan said after the race.
The first woman runner home was Kovo Kowalewski from Hamilton in 3hr 42mins.
Rotorua cyclist Dirk Peters won the cycling part of the Karioi Classic in 1hr 59min in a sprint for the finish line with his flatmate Carl Jones, who came in 0.2 seconds later.
“It was fun,” Dirk said. “Coming along the coast I kind of wish I could have stopped and looked at the view.”
The cycling event was 9km longer than previous years at 57km, which helped give organisers some breathing space, especially as the cyclists, like Dirk Peters, were getting so fast.
“That’s [Dirk’s time of 1hr 59min] a cracking pace, given the extra distance and given the hills and everything,” Lisa said.
The first woman home was Megan Arthur (2hr 26min) and the first team, a Hamilton-Auckland mixed combination known as the Little Flyers, in 2hr 17min. The fastest single-speed cyclist was Garth Weinberg – winner of numerous national titles – who came fourth overall with a time of 2hr 2min.
The event attracted a 270-strong field of cyclists, mostly from Waikato and Auckland and increasingly from Taranaki, but fewer locals this year, Lisa said.
The fastest male and female cyclists, also known as the King and Queen of Karioi, received $500 each at the prize-giving later at the Raglan Sunset Motel. There was no prize money for the runners, who received awards and spot prizes instead.
Lisa said the event was deliberately timed for winter, the lean time for tourism in Raglan and for the New Zealand cycle race calendar “when we believe the town needs an injection of business”. Most competitors and their supporters usually stayed two nights in Raglan.