Gavin Mason surprised a lot of people with his efforts in the
Coast to Coast two years ago but, really, they should have
seen him coming.
Mason, of Wanaka, is never far from the spotlight. He has
competed in multisport and adventure events in snow and surf,
on mountain bike tracks and skifields, on flat terrain and in
In 2011, he was an 11th-hour replacement for Brian Weddon in
the two-day team section of the Coast to Coast, with
Dunedin's Shannon Edgar.
Mason left the field for dust on the 55km cycle stage between
Kumara and Deception, with live feeds of the race transmitted
from the course unable to identify the mystery rider who had
opened up almost 5min on the peloton.
At the Deception transition, Mason was swamped with
inquiries. Who was he? What was his background?The spotlight
shifted from Mason a couple of hours later when Edgar had to
be airlifted from Goat Pass after falling and breaking an
Mason (32), a Department of Conservation ranger, returned to
race the Longest Day last year, finishing 12th in 13hr 24min
47sec, and will aim for a top-10 finish next month.
''I finished feeling that I still had a bit more to give,''
he said of last year's performance.
Mason began to step up his training at the beginning of
November after competing in the 62.9km Anaconda Adventure
Race in Perth. He finished seventh in a field of 2000, and
placed second as a member of the New Zealand team alongside
Braden Currie (Wanaka) and Nic Leary (Rotorua).
Combining training with a full-time job and volunteer work
for St John is not easy.
''Getting the hours up is probably the hardest part,'' Mason
His fitness base has increased over the past four to six
weeks, the only hindrance being a rolled ankle received on
Goat Pass when training over the alpine section in early
There is no doubt Mason will be in the mix throughout the
243km Coast to Coast on February 9. Besides a top-10 place,
his aim will be to ''finish strong and well''. Given any
opportunity, his strength on the bike will be a major factor
on the 70km final stage between Gorge Bridge and Sumner.
''When you finish in the top 10, you get to stand up on stage
at the prizegiving. It's the pinnacle of multisport.
''If I crack that, I'll reassess from there as to whether to
commit a lot more time towards training to try and crack the
Mason has occasionally trained with Longest Day
champions-in-waiting Currie and Dougal Allan.
Their ability to drag him along, particularly on the bike,
paid off when he took line honours in last year's Motutapu
47km mountain bike race in a spectacular finish with Mark
After leaving Dunedin, where he was involved with the St
Clair Surf Life Saving Club, five years ago, Mason
''morphed'' into a multisporter, with the ability to get out
on the hills and paddle some good rivers around Wanaka.
His latest code is cyclocross, in which he won the Queenstown
leg of the national series for a ticket to the national
finals in Napier, where he finished eighth.
Mason has a hunger to feature again on the cyclocross stage
when the national championships are held in Queenstown as
part of the Winter Games.
''The Coast to Coast is base training for the cyclocross,''
he said, smiling.
In recent years, Mason has been on the podium in Gold Rush
and Peak to Peak events, as well as several other Central