More than 700 mountain bikers will tackle the seventh annual
Contact Epic mountain biking challenge around Lake Hawea
Among them will be 30 ''Last Man Standing'' (LMS) contenders
in the running for a cash kitty set up by race organisers in
the event's first year.
The group, aged from 22 to 66, contains only riders who have
completed the 125km Epic race distance each year.
The prize money, which is added to each year, will eventually
be awarded to the last man or woman standing who has ridden
the most consecutive events.
''We have heard some fantastic stories of commitment. And
that's not just from the riders but their families, too,''
race director Danielle Nicholson said.
''From wedding anniversaries spent by wives at the Hawea
Holiday Camp with the four kids while hubby rides, to giving
up smoking to ensure an increased lung capacity.''
More than half of this year's competitors will compete in the
full 125km circumnavigation of the lake.
The newer Contact Traverse ride, a shorter 35km circuit that
leaves Lake Hawea and follows the Hawea and upper Clutha
rivers, has attracted more than 100 riders. The rest will
compete in the 95km Classic ride.
The 2013 Epic winners, Dougal Allan and Kath Kelly, will
return this year to defend their respective titles.
Allan has just returned from winning China's Wenzhou Outdoor
Challenge as part of a team, while five-time women's champion
Kelly will have her work cut out for her with the return of
2012 women's champion Kim Hurst.
''It will be a head-to-head,'' Mrs Nicholson said.
The Contact Epic race starts at 7am tomorrow.