Photo finish in Motatapu mountain bike

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Saturday’s Motatapu mountain bike race finished with a thrilling four-way sprint to the line in Arrowtown.
 
Gavin Mason, from Wanaka – where the 47km cross country race started – won in a split second from Queenstown’s Mark Williams in 1hr 52min 45.92sec.
 
Close on their heels were Brent Miller and Nick Clark, both of Christchurch.

“We have ridden together all the way and it was always going to be a lottery at the end,” Mason says.
 
Women’s winner, Queenstowner Kate Fluker, won in a women’s elite record time of 2hr 16min, just over four minutes ahead of Queenstown-based Canadian, Megan Rose.

The previous record was held by Kate Kelly in 2:20.05sec.

Fluker says she’s happier than last year when she hit the wall in one part of the race.

Also in the 2100-strong mountain bike field was 2004 Olympic triathlon gold medallist Hamish Carter, who competed in his role as patron for Pink Pilates, which helps women with breast cancer.

The 42.2km off-road Motatapu marathon was won by event newcomer Blair McWhirter, of Christchurch.

The former Buller marathon winner won in 2hr 51min 41sec, pushing last year’s winner, fellow Cantabrian Vajin Armstrong, into second place, six minutes behind.
 
Kepler Challenge title-holder Victoria Beck, of Dunedin, won the women’s event and was third overall in 3:18.13sec.
 
Six minutes back in second place was Queenstowner Sarah Coghlan, who’d set the record last year in 3:19.56sec.
 
“I am really a long-distance triathlete but am keen to do more marathons,” Beck said after the race. 

The marathon attracted 538 runners and 65 walkers.

The winning team in the gruelling 49km, four-peak Motatapu Adventure Run, Queenstowner Bas Smith and Wanaka’s Jess Simson, shaved an amazing 45 minutes off the previous record in finishing in 6:40.3sec. 

The previous record had been held by locals Chris Dagg and Darren Blackhurst.

Second placegetters Phil Wood, of Queenstown, and Russ Rotheram, of Christchurch, also beat Dagg’s and Blackhurst’s record, finishing in 7:05.03sec.

Two minutes behind in third place were the Rationale Ltd team. Team Wilma and Betty won the women’s section in 11:21.02sec. Twenty teams entered this section. 

The 15km Miner’s Trail, which started and finished in Arrowtown, attracted a record field of 500 competitors. 

Mitchell Keir, of Ashburton, improved on his fifth placing last year to win in 1:26.09sec, almost four minutes ahead of Blair Simpson, of Lower Hutt. 

“The conditions were beautiful and the wind pushed me along up on the top,” Keir says.

Alan Funnell, of Dunedin, whose record time of 1:21.42sec remains, took a wrong turn that put him out of contention.

Louisa Andrew, of Dunedin, took out her third Miners’ Trail women’s title in a row. Her 1:31.57sec was just outside her personal best.

Olympic cycling gold medallist Sarah Ulmer finished 19th in the women’s section in 1:53.08sec, and says she was blown away by the scenery. 

“I don’t think it’s worth running if you can’t run in places like this.”

Ulmer competed in the 2010 Motatapu marathon but says the Miner’s Trail was just as challenging.

Braden Currie, of Wanaka, took out the Motatapu triathlon title in 3:48.05sec.

The race – a 2km swim in Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka, followed by a 47km mountain bike leg and the 15km Miners’ Trail – attracted 106 individuals and seven teams.

In second place, in 4:01.03sec was Axel Reiser. of Christchurch, who won the inaugural event last year, and third was Patrick Harvey, of Auckland, in 4:05.16sec.

Currie says: “The course was not as difficult as I had anticipated although I did have some mechanical problems on the bike.

“But once I got into the run it was great because that’s my thing.”

The women’s tri was won by Fleur Lattimore, of Nelson, in 4:45.19sec, followed by Catherine Dunn, of Wellington, and Sarah Bryant, of Dunedin.

Organisers this year also trialled a multisport race, similar to the triathlon but with a 15km paddle on the Matukituki River, rather than the swim in Lake Wanaka.
 
Queenstown’s Hadyn Key won in 5:31.06sec, with Shaun Portegys, of Alexandra, a minute behind.

David Slater, of Christchurch, was third, while Danish-born Sia Svendsen, of Christchurch, was easily the first woman home in 6:08.08sec.

Also in the multisport race was nine-times Coast to Coast winner Steve Gurney.

“I hadn’t done any training but the paddle was great,” Gurney says.

“The mountain bike was stunning but the run gave me a total shock, however the stunning scenery made up for the pain.” 

The multisport race will alternate with the adventure race from next year.