A prominent local mountain biker and former sports store owner is the new Queenstown Trails Trust chief executive.
Mark Williams, who takes over from Christchurch-bound Mandy Kennedy this coming Monday, has long been a passionate supporter and user of the trust’s network of cycling/walking trails.
“I’m really happy to be selected – it’s a fantastic fit for me.”
Trust chairman Tony McQuilkin says trustees were delighted with the number and calibre of applicants.
Commenting on Williams’ selection, he says “the tool-box was full”.
“‘Willy’ is a well-respected and well-known local, he’s got proven achievements personally, in his sporting career and business-wise, and we think he can translate those skills into taking the trust ahead.”
Raised in England, he and his wife Lucy came to Queenstown for a one-year working holiday 20 years ago so he could continue his mountain climbing hobby.
After settling here, he became a successful adventure racer, and to this day he’s also been a champion mountain biker.
In February, Williams and fellow local mountain biker Kate Fluker won the mixed team category in The Pioneer race from Christchurch to Queenstown for a second year.
A month later they were the fifth fastest mixed team in the gruelling Cape Epic in South Africa.
For 12 years, Williams and Hadyn Key owned a successful branch of outdoor gear store, R&R Sport, before The Warehouse Group’s Torpedo7 group bought their chain.
Williams believes connections he’s made through business and sport will help a lot in his new job.
The 43-year-old’s already been cycling the trails at least two or three times a week, especially now he and his wife have two young daughters.
The trust, he believes, has established a really good foundation thanks to Kennedy and her trail-blazing predecessor. Kaye Parker.
“It’s a real testament to the trust how well the trails have become a big part of what Queenstown can offer.”
Asked his priorities, Williams says “there’s some really good [trail] connections to be made to link all the communities in the Basin”.
“You look at traffic congestion – the trails are a perfect avenue to be a different mode of transport.
“I would really like to see more usage of the trails.
“And I think there’s a huge opportunity to become a champion of getting kids back on bikes.”