Peak to Peak to mark 21 years

New Zealand's longest-running winter multisport event is preparing to celebrate its 21st year of competition.

The race has witnessed some of New Zealand's best multisport athletes race from the top of the Remarkables to Coronet Peak.

The course established in 1994 connected the new Remarkables skifield with the town and the winter festival, before going to the finish line at Coronet Peak.

The concept has remained unchanged since its beginning, with racers having a direct view of the finish line across the valley.

Competitors are required to ski or snowboard, mountain bike, kayak, run and cycle through several gruelling stages of the event to cover a total distance of 44km.

The original race in 1994 attracted a small field of just under 100 competitors in total across all the teams and individuals.

The following year, this rose to 30 teams and 27 individuals and now local Steve Gurney won the men's division.

The women's division was won by now local Sue Carnahan, then from Invercargill.

Over 20 years of racing has seen big names in multisport racing, such as Bernice Lepper, Richard Ussher and Erin Greene take the title of Peak to Peak champion.

This year, the race is scheduled for July 26 and a full field of more than 400 competitors is expected.

Individuals race the entire event and teams can be made up of two to five people.

A division has been made for school teams.

Last year, Otago Boys' High School would have placed third overall in the open teams.

A special invitation has been made out to Chris Dagg, who has competed in 20 years of the Peak to Peak and been in the winning team on more than one occasion.

In a press release race director Geoff Hunt said he was looking forward to the event.

''It is fantastic that the event has reached this milestone and continues to receive the great support from the local racers and also from the multisport champions of the country.''

- Alastair Lynn