Once again the weather for this time of the year couldn’t have been better. Although it was crisp at 8am as riders started arriving at registration, the garages and pit area soon started to warm up with people sitting on wind trainers. These were the serious contenders. For others (who were there for fun) they got out on the track and in to the early morning sunshine to test out the track and have a look at the new layout for the transition zone.
This year each rider was required to ride with their transponder on their right hand front fork and the lead up to the transition zone remained on the track in a coned off split right to the stopping point. The transponder was then handed to the next rider who then took off down the pit lane and on to the track. This appeared to be a far safer transition than previous years and enabled spectators and team mates a great view. The cheers from this crowd was appreciated and spurred riders on to another lap or more.
Race briefing was lightened with a few remarks on housekeeping. And then without further a do, the lead vehicle pulled out, with Ian McKelvie MP in the front doing the first lap. This year a team of speed skaters joined the event and everyone was amazed at how fast these guys could actually go, transponder neatly tucked in to the leg of their kit.
As the time ticked by and the first riders pulled off to change to the next team person, the sun continued to shine and it was hard to tell if there was a breeze blowing or if there was, what direction it was coming from. At the end of each hour the current standings were read out over the PA system by Sarah from “The Hits” so even if you were out on the track you could tell what was going on. The music then started pumping and the riders kept going. Certain solo riders had targets that they were aiming for, others just wanted to finish. It really wasn’t fair when as a solo rider you heard other riders around you saying “I’ve got one more lap to do” then somebody else would say “Nah, I’m staying out for another couple since I’m riding with a good bunch” and the solos had 4 hours left to go. Each hour just ticked away and as the time approached the six hour mark the pace appeared to pick up again and the teams in the top ranks were showing all determination to make sure that they changed riders at the right time and always had fresh, fast legs out on the track.
In total there were 24 solo riders with James Denholm taking out the Male Solo Cup and prizemoney producing a total of 87 laps a total distance of 263 km. This was presented by Ian McKelvie who donated the cup. Glenys Taylor took away the female solo cup and prizemoney with a total of 66 laps, total distance of 203 km.
There were 9 female teams with Compact Crankers a team consisting of Lesley Mouat,Donna Burkhart and Kirsten Goodin completing 81 laps.
All male teams totalled 24 with the eventual winning team in this category being “In the Dog House 1” with riders Adrian Pettit,Allan Luff,Shaun Tucker and Richard Stanton all from Wanganui. They completed 87 laps.
Team names this year were varied, some giving a clue to where or who was in the team, but other team names were just fun names. The 23 mixed teams saw the Havelock Crew eventual winners producing 83 laps. Their riders were Cadell Heney, Kirsten Hatley, Lisa Atkins and Maree Walters.
School teams had to include only school students and it wasn’t surprising to see a team from this category take out the top prize. All riders in this team had taken part in the challenge in the past and knew what would be required to take out the top prize. The 2014 winners of the Challenge Shield was Palmerston North Boys High Senior A team consisting of Mitchell Kinghorn, Nate Levin, Alex West and Josh Kendall. They completed 91 laps and were competing against 23 other school teams.
The fastest lap time also happened to go to one of the riders in the PNBHS Senior A team who clocked a 3km lap of Manfeild in 3 mins 39 secs.
A total of 309 riders took part and although there might be a few tired or sore riders today I am sure they all had fun and enjoyed riding in the great Manawatu sunshine. Hope to see them all back again next year and that they all tell a friend.
Finally thanks to all of the sponsors and volunteers that helped make this event such a success.