Finance Minister Bill English will take his eyes off the recession to race from Wanaka to Arrowtown on his mountain bike.
He’s a surprise entrant in the annual Motatapu Icebreaker a week on Saturday – the race doubles as an off-road mountain bike race and marathon through iconic high-country properties partly owned by Canadian singing superstar Shania Twain.
One of a full field of 2000 mountain bikers, English – who became Queenstown’s MP at last year’s election after a boundary change – has been training hard on hills around Wellington.
“We’ll have to wait and see whether that translates into a credible performance on the day,” the Deputy Prime Minister says. “I’m not too competitive – but I don’t want to come last.
“The Motatapu Icebreaker is set in one of the most scenic corners of New Zealand and – at least for a few hours – I won’t be thinking about the Budget.”
Recreational riders try to crack the 52km ride, which includes steep sections and river crossings, in four hours.
English completed the 1995 Coast to Coast race, has fought in the boxing ring for charity and keeps fit by running.