Couple's winning way could be just the start

Talk about a power couple.

Love was in the air at the finish line of the Motatapu on Saturday as the men's and women's 47km mountain bike races were won by Australian Kyle Ward and New Zealander Samara Sheppard respectively.

The pair of elite athletes have been dating for three years.

Sheppard (28) hails from Clyde and represented New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She is coached by Ward (27).

"I consider myself a very fortunate guy to have a girlfriend to chase around," he said. "She enjoys riding around and chasing me, too.

Samara Sheppard and Kyle Ward share a smile at the finish line of the Motatapu on Saturday.PHOTO:...
Samara Sheppard and Kyle Ward share a smile at the finish line of the Motatapu on Saturday.PHOTO: PAUL TAYLOR

"We keep each other fit. Some days I need motivation and vice versa."

 

Ward indicated they might be riding the same events more often.

"We're going to crack into the mixed races and hopefully come back for the Pioneer in New Zealand later this year.

"If we can get through that unscathed, relationship-wise, we are going to try to get across to do the Cape Epic [South Africa]."

That could provide a challenge to Queenstown mixed team Kate Boe (nee Fluker) and Mark Williams.

Hundreds of mountain bikers take off from Glendhu Bay at the start of the mountain bike race....
Hundreds of mountain bikers take off from Glendhu Bay at the start of the mountain bike race. PHOTO: SEAN NUGENT
The popular locals were labelled "unbeatable" as they crossed the finish line in Wilcox Green, Arrowtown, to win the mixed race.

They won the inaugural Pioneer and were second last year, while Boe has won the women's Motatapu race every year for the past six years.

Williams, also chief executive of the Motatapu's chosen charity the Queenstown Trails Trust, said: "It's quite nice for us because we ride pretty well as a pair, and haven't done this event before as a team, so it was nice to ride through together.

"It's hard work, just like always, trying to keep up with Kate. Because it's been a wet spring there's a lot of growth up there, so it was pretty heavy going through the grass sections. It won't be a quick year."

Spirits were high among the almost 2000 mountain bikers competing, as they set off in perfect calm conditions at Glendhu Bay, Wanaka, beginning their ascent from the lakeshore up in to the Motatapu Valley.

The 15th Macpac-sponsored Motatapu was the first time the event was run over two days.

On Saturday, it was the mountain bike race, e-bike tour, the XTERRA triathlon and 51km ultra run, while on Sunday it was the 42km off-road marathon, the 15km Miners Trail and the 8.5km Sawpit Trail.

Chinese-born Queenstown runner Nancy Jiang, who won December's Kepler Challenge and finished 15th at the 2018 world mountain running championship representing New Zealand, won the ultra run, after a battle with fellow Queenstown runner Laura Reidy. Dunedin's Rose Pearson was third.

Nearly 200 runners leave the Glendhu Bay start line at 6am on Saturday for the ultra run.PHOTO:...
Nearly 200 runners leave the Glendhu Bay start line at 6am on Saturday for the ultra run.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Queenstown athlete Georgina Read was second in the tri, behind Christchurch's Emma Weston, while Arrowtown athlete Adam Wilson finished third in the men's triathlon.

Both the Miners Trail and Sawpit Trail are both hugely popular with locals.

John Falconer, of Gore, was the oldest competitor at 86. He took on the Miners Trail.

"I've done [the marathon] twice before and the Miners Trail once before.

"It went pretty well, actually. Tobin's Hill is the first one to give you a bit of a try, but it was quite good this time. I walk all the way. I walked the marathon too - always a walker."

Falconer, who finished the 15km in 2hr 58min, said being part of group that recycles Gore's cardboard each morning keeps him fit.

"I'm just lucky that I've kept well."

In all, some 4000 competitors took part in the various races through the high country station between Wanaka and Queenstown. Nine had taken part in all 15 Motatapu events.

Add a Comment

 

drivesouth1.png

drivesouth2.png