Big climb knocked off

Kath Kelly celebrates the final lap of her Everesting Challenge with her mother Rosemary Kelly,...
Kath Kelly celebrates the final lap of her Everesting Challenge with her mother Rosemary Kelly, of Roxburgh, niece Hannah Kelly, of Blenheim, and brother Tom Kelly, of Blenheim. PHOTO: YVONNE O’HARA
It was the hardest thing endurance athlete Kath Kelly has ever done.

The Teviot woman mountain-biked a greater distance than the height of Mt Everest in just under 18 hours last week.

Despite bitterly cold, wet and muddy conditions, Ms Kelly cycled up and down Ettrick’s Mt Benger track nine times, starting at 11.50pm on January 3 and finishing about 6.30pm the following day, for her Everesting Challenge.

She completed 181.6km, over a combined elevation of 9235m (Mt Everest is 8848.86m), taking 17 hours, 37 minutes and 44 seconds to do it, with only short meal breaks.

During her descent on the first lap she felt the challenge was a "really bad idea".

"I felt sick coming down the hill because I was nervous I had made the wrong decision with the weather and track conditions.

"The weather up top was heinous, making it a lot harder to ride than during training."

The challenge was more mental than physical.

The 2km stretch near the top was brutal because it was a 17% gradient and rough terrain.

Her fastest lap was 1hr 47min and the slowest 2hr 14min, which was her final lap during which she spent a few minutes at the top of the track helping support crew member Mary Affleck, of Millers Flat, take down a tent and tidy up the site. Mrs Affleck had been at the summit for 18 hours.

Ms Kelly’s next challenge, the Te WaiPounamu, which is a 1350km, 22,000m elevation mountain-biking, hiking and bike packing event, starts on February 14.


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