Peak to peak, sans paddle

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Cold comfort: Lucas Fornes takes on winter water

A Queenstowner had to be helped from Lake Wakatipu last Saturday because he couldn’t feel his feet after a 5km swim in the ice-cold water.

And Lucas Fornes still had a 9km run and 9km uphill cycle ahead of him.

The 40-year-old open water swimmer chose to swim the kayak stage in Frankton Arm of the already-challenging Peak to Peak race, from The Remarkables skifield to Coronet Peak.

Fornes, an Argentinian, has been training in the lake all winter but says it was tough going in choppy conditions that saw the kayak stage itself cut short.

“I’ve been swimming in the lake every weekend in perfect conditions, then on the day it was very windy and cold.

“The cold just takes all the energy from your body. To get out of the lake I needed help because I couldn’t walk.”

Fornes is no stranger to distance swimming. He completed February’s Epic Epic at the NZ Open Water Champs in Taupo, finishing ninth in 6hr 22min.

But this swim from Frankton Marina to Park Street was a different challenge.

“Just before the end I got two cramps and thought I would have to stop.

“The support crew, who were amazing, were concerned because it was getting very choppy. But I carried on and was fine.”

Fornes started the 9km run out to Arthurs Point in a down jacket, then cycled 9km up the skifield road to the finish.

He finished the 44km ski-cycle-kayak-run-cycle race in 3hr 44min – with the swim 1:30 of the total.

Hamish Fleming, 27, powered to his third successive win in the individual male category, finishing in 2:16.

Queenstown’s Eryn Cutler was second individual male in 2:26, with Invercargill’s Rikki Griffin two minutes behind him in third.

Queenstown’s Josie Cederman was the fastest woman, in 2:51, and also took the female veteran title.

She was followed by fellow local Kat Bulk in 3:03 and Christchurch’s Jess Rathgen in 3:06.

Queenstown’s Archie Ritchie took the honours in the individual junior male division, while Alexandra’s Shaun Portegys was fastest male veteran.

Queenstown’s Proactive Physio was the fastest open team and Funk Nose the fastest mixed team. Back on Track Physio was the fastest women’s team and Hirepool the fastest business team. Dunedin’s Avantiplus was fastest veterans team for the 11th time in a row.

Southland Boys won the high school division, taking fourth place overall, and James Hargest College JR was the fastest junior school team.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz