Jon gives all for his dad and thirsty Vanuatu kids

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Fifteen-year-old Jonathan Dennison (right) of Invercargill finishes the 52km Motatapu Icebreaker mountain bike race in Arrowtown last Saturday, which doubled as a fundraiser for him.

By getting people to guess his finishing time, he raised $4000 for a Youth With A Mission trip to the Pacific island of Vanuatu in September, where he’ll help other volunteers build water tanks.

The person who guessed closest to his finishing time will win an Otago rugby team signed jersey supplied by Canterbury,

He would have improved his handy time of 3hr 7min 22sec but for snapping his chain on one of the last river crossings and he had to run to the finish line carrying his bike.

Jonathan recorded 3hr 23min in his first Motatapu last year after getting an exemption because the minimum age for competitors is 15.

His mum Janferie, who’ll also go to Vanuatu, says her husband’s death from a brain tumour in October 2007 has been a motivator for Jonathan – his dad John Dennison’s family hailed from Arrowtown.

The mountain bike race, which attracted 2000 competitors, was won by New Zealand rep Kashi Leuchs, who beat fellow NZ rider Marcus Roy, who’d won all four previous races, in 1hr 58min 42sec. Queenstowner Mark Williams finished third.

Deputy Prime Minister and local MP Bill English finished in 4hr 58min 41sec.

A Southland cop, Jacob Schriek, died halfway through the bike race after suffering a heart attack.

The leading runner in the Motatapu marathon, which also started in Wanaka, was John Winsbury – for the third time – in 2hr 38min 13sec.