Queenstown bank teller Mary Jane Spring has invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears in her first Peak to Peak race.
The multisport rookie is not just a weekend warrior. Before her weekday 9am start at the Rees Street BNZ, the gutsy 31-year-old has been rolling out of bed at 5.15 every morning for months to train for Saturday’s gruelling annual event.
Her evenings are also spent either pounding the roads, biking or kayaking.
And Spring doesn’t mind a bit that her punishing routine leaves little time for anything else – including relationships.
“I’m far too busy at the moment for anything like couching out in front of the TV or having a boyfriend,” she grins.
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way as I’m loving every minute of it.”
A keen snowboarder, Spring admits until last year she had little interest in endurance racing.
She caught the bug after hooking up with prominent local multisporter Jordan Davignon.
“Jordan has been a great inspiration to me and she’s given me so much encouragement.
“Before that, I was just competing at snowboarding but it was becoming too expensive and I was getting too many injuries.
“I started looking around for something else to fill my time and in the past 12 months I’ve managed four triathlons.”
Spring – originally from Eketahuna in the lower North Island – settled in Queenstown in 2007.
A former chef, she first worked at Outside Sports tuning skis before taking up a post at BNZ.
“A nine to five job suits me great because it affords me the time to have a decent training routine.
“Quite a few people in Queenstown focus on having a good time in the bars at the weekend but I decided that wasn’t for me.
“Instead, I started to get involved with some great people from the sports world and it’s given me a whole new lease of life and direction.”
She adds: “If I can do it, anyone can.”
Spring’s schedule involves 6am swims at Alpine Aqualand three times a week. Then there’s biking over to Wanaka and back, roadwork and time in the kayak.
She’s not looking to notch up any world-beating time in the Peak to Peak – insisting “anything under four hours will suit me fine”.
“Just knowing I’m able to do it means I’m already a winner,” she says. “And I’ve already signed up for the two-day Coast to Coast next year.”
Peak to Peak organiser Geoff Hunt anticipates around 70 individual and 100 team entries for this year’s event, which starts at The Remarkables at noon.
He reckons Wanaka’s Dougal Allan and Queenstown’s Mike Kelly are ones to watch for the men’s title.
But he believes enthusiasts such as Spring are every bit as important as the elite athletes.
“I’ve seen Mary Jane out there running and biking in the mornings and at weekends. “Competitors like her put in an incredible effort and really help make the race what it is.”