The 13th edition of Emerson’s Whaka100 Mountain Bike Marathon presented by CamelBak is taking place this weekend in Rotorua, New Zealand. With over 1400 people signed up for the race across all distances, it is shaping up to be the biggest one yet!
The packed schedule of events serves up something for everyone, including the Rotorua Isuzu Shoot Out Time Trial on Saturday and the 100km, 50km, 25km, 10km, kids 5.5km events on Sunday. Defending champions Tim Rush and Josie Wilcox are returning to the event. Oamaru’s Tim Rush said he was returning to the race because he enjoys the trails.
“I don’t get a chance to ride much singletrack so it’s exciting to head up to Rotorua and race somewhere different.” Rush said his main goal is to enjoy himself out on course.
“I have found when I’m having fun I ride my best and it becomes easier to endure the suffering that I know it will be. Ideally my preparation for the Whaka100 would involve a decent amount of training on singletrack and with decent long climbs but down here (in Oamaru) we don’t have too much in that way of things.”
Rush said he has put in a few months of solid work to try and get his power numbers looking better than previous years. Wilcox said her main goal for the Whaka100 this year was to ride fast and have fun.
“The Whaka100 is one of the longer races on the calendar so it takes time to build a bit of strength to ride hard for six hours. I’ve been able to maintain consistent training this year more than ever.”
There has been a 19.5 percent growth in the event this year, with a 73 percent increase in female riders. 93.5 percent of people are traveling from outside of Rotorua, with participants travelling from 15 countries. Spectators can watch the race from the big screen set up at the event venue at Waipa Mountain Bike Carpark.
Event Director Tim Farmer said the level of competition has increased with top athletes coming from around Australasia. “The reputation of Rotorua as a mountain bike destination is resonating with riders and the event gives an opportunity to participate in a mountain bike marathon on world-class trails.”
Two of the biggest names to hop across the pond from Australia are Jon Odams and Brendan Johnston, who both recently won the Cape to Cape 4-day stage race in Western Australia. There is a good chance the duo can use their strength and ability to race well as a pair to control – and win – the Whaka100.
The Whaka100 proudly holds its reputation as one of the toughest mountain bike marathons in the Southern Hemisphere. The event gives competitors a chance to show off skill and endurance in the Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua.