Blood, sweat and thorns

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Bit thorny
Mountain bike contestant Paul Angus was pulling thorns out of his right arm as he crossed the finish line. “I caught some sort of bush cutting a corner really tight, and it just ripped my arms to pieces.” 

Angus, 31, finished five minutes slower this year in 2hr 16min: “I didn’t put the hard yards in like I did last year.” The local Vertigo Bikes director says he’s more suited to downhill biking. “You’ve got to have road miles in your legs to do well in this event.” 

One good crash
Queenstowner Jim Hawk­ridge finished strongly in 2hr 5min to claim 14th in the mountain bike race. In his first race last year he recorded 2:04 for a top-10 finish. “I was hoping to go a little bit quicker and ended up going a little bit slower – you don’t always get what you want.” 

Hawk­ridge, 38, says he had fun all the same. “I had one good crash on the last river and pretty much got submerged – apart from that it was great.” 

Bluffing through it
Veteran Queenstown endur­ance athlete Geoff Hunt says he bluffed the kayak and running sections of the new Motatapu multisport race. Hunt, 58, says he’s chuffed to finish fourth out of 16 athletes, in 5hr 59min. 

The race involved paddling 15km on the Matukituki River, a 54km mountain bike leg including a rough first 7km, and the 15km Miner’s Trail run. “It was a tough day at the office, especially because I’m very good on my bike right now but not at kayaking and running because I haven’t been doing either of them.” 

The organiser of the upcoming Queens­town Bike Festival says he used old memory skills for those last two legs but the downhill run was still causing him pain two days later. 

Enough to make worlds
Triathlon competitor, Queens­town hospital doctor Morne Pienaar, booked a slot in the world Xterra champs in Hawaii on Saturday. Pienaar, 35, was sixth overall but qualified for the worlds in October by winning his 35-39 age group. 

“The [2km] swim was beautiful, flat as, the [47km] mountain bike race is always hard going because it’s a relatively short tri, and the [15km] run was just a grunt all the way after that.” Pienaar left on Monday for a mountain bike race in his native South Africa. 

Record time for Fluker
Queenstowner Kate Fluker won the women’s mountain bike race in record time after shaving seven minutes off last year’s effort. Fluker, 24, says she’s absolutely chuffed with her 2hr 16min, just a minute off her target. “Last year I was out in the lead for a bit and hit a wall. 

This year my focus was to just keep going and maintain the pace I started with – and I managed to do that.” Dunedin’s Kath Kelly held the previous record of 2:20.05sec. 

‘Too hard too early’
Queenstowner Sarah Coghlan, 27, isn’t too disappointed over surrendering her marathon record. Coghlan’s 3:19.48sec last year beat the record set by ex-world mountain running champion Melissa Moon by six seconds. Dunedin’s Victoria Beck won on Saturday in 3:18.13sec with Coghlan six minutes back. 

”Maybe I just went out a little bit too hard to begin with.” Coghlan says she was always only one or two minutes behind Beck till the last half hour. 

Hop-along Wendy
Marathoner Wendy Duncan was hopping by the end. “The freezing rivers don’t do your calves any favours. It’s hard to get through those rivers without cramping.” Duncan, 32, says it’s a tough race. 

“I think it’s the relentless, undulating terrain.” She finished 20th female in 4:22, seven minutes faster than last year. “The difference I think was just getting more mountain-running kilometres under my belt.”