Athletes heading from Peak to Peak

Winner: Hamish Fleming won last year's Peak to Peak men's race in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 19 seconds PICTURE: PEAK TO PEAK

Queenstowners are gearing up for tomorrow’s Peak to Peak endurance race.

Competitors in Saturday’s 44km race will ski or snowboard, mountain bike, kayak, run and road bike from the Remarkables skifield to Coronet Peak via Lake Wakatipu.

Local multisport athlete Paul Preston, who’s entered the event for the last couple of years in a team, is competing for the first time as an individual.

He’s aiming to cross the finish line in about two-and-a-half hours, but knows anything can happen on race day, including less-than-ideal weather conditions.

He says “staying upright in a kayak” will be his biggest challenge on the day.

“If I can get through that without falling out I should have a chance at staying up there with the top boys.”

Preston says the final leg, the ascent of Coronet Peak, is the “deal breaker”.

“Getting up there is a real lung-burner and your legs will be a bit tired by then.

“You just push through and get up there.”

He’s no newbie to endurance racing and is heading to Hawaii in October to compete in the Xterra World Championship.

Organiser Geoff Hunt says between 350 and 400 people are taking part in the team, individual and kids’ events.

Lack of snow on the Remarkables’ Homeward Bound run at the moment has resulted in a course change – competitors will instead ski or board down the Calypso trail.

The change means mountain bikers will start a bit further up the hill, cycling on about 100 metres of snow.

Hunt says he’s keeping his fingers crossed for good race conditions, but reckons it could be “interesting”.