Author: Tristan Haycock - tristanhaycock.co.nz
After a long week of weather watching, the day played out alright. Big grey clouds stretched across the Rotorua skies prevented a frost from developing on the ground. The clouds didn’t look too threatening and the forecast suggested that we were all going to be able race without getting wet!
Riders rolled up from all over the North Island and even a few international riders made the journey. The car park soon filled up with riders, families, friends and supporters. Bikes began to fill the Waipa event village. You couldn’t see much Lycra at this stage though. More so just puffer jackets, thermals and gloves. Most riders went for a warm up just to get some blood flow to their fingers and toes before race start. If you can’t feel your fingers, how are you going to change gear?
The long course E Bikes kicked off at 9:25am. The four competitors were the first of the riders to take to the trails. It’s great to see this category grow each year. Bikes ranging from full suspensions to hard tails just like the XC riders. Next up was the long course heading out at 9:30am. With over 160 riders the start shoot was packed with eager, nervous and excited riders. The gun went at the riders were off. All 3 distances had seeded riders. This meant those who had proven they have pace in the past or applied for a seeded position get to start at the front of the pack. Next to start at 9:40 was the Short Course. The field was made up of over 140 riders. Finally, the mid-course took to the start line. The most competitors lined up here. More than 180 riders were sent out into the forest in the last wave at 10:00am
All three courses rolled out through the same sections of forest. This included mud pool road, bakers hollow, creek track, Lions tail, A Trail and Tickler. From here the 3 courses split. The start consisted of a mixture of wide open 4WD track to allow lots of passing and riders pushing to the front or relaxing towards the back of the wave, but also some tight twisty single track to space groups of riders out. At the course split the long course began the hard climb up direct road and frontal lobotomy. While the mid-course made their way down Bunny Jugs and the short course looped back down be rude not to. The long course had a few climbs cut out of the race due to the frost damage of the trails in the days leading up to the race, they re-joined the mid-course through the Roller coaster section before tackling Old Chevy together. Once the riders got their heart rate up suddenly the forest didn’t seem so cold. All the riders were found huffing and puffing their way up the final climb of Pig Track and then picking their way down towards the finish line through Grinder, Challenge Roadside, Rockdrop and Rosebank.
The NDURO Events crew were even kind enough this year to avoid the river crossing so no one went swimming before crossing the finish. Check out this video from previous years!
Riders began trickling back into the event village about 30 minutes after the last rider left to star the mid-course. Before long the event village was filling up once more with tired, worn out and accomplished riders. The promo setups of Gloworm and Squirt were pumping with riders checking out some cool products. The Camelbak tent was full of H2O for riders to drink along with Nuun to replenish those valuable electrolytes. Deejays was pumping, with plenty of tasty burgers floating around along with a fair few cartons of hot chips. The smell of icy cold Rotorua pine trees, mixed with riders sweat, and deep-fried goodness filled the air to make a familiar scent at the finish.
Next to DJ Spectrum, who was doing a rad job dropping the beats for the day was the awesome looking podium. With the bright pink and blue backdrop. Which matched number plates and this huge podium. Some epic spot prizes were awarded along with the champagne for the top 3 riders overall. What a day. Loads of fun was had all round with people catching up with friends and competitors from all over the country. I say bring on round #2! See you all on the 4th of August for We Run the Forest and then on the 5th of August for round #2 of the 2018 Gloworm Winter Series.