Endurance event appeals to all kinds of racers

Queenstown’s Hamish Fleming won the men’s race last year in 2hr  11min 19sec. Photo: Peak To Peak.
Queenstown’s Hamish Fleming won the men’s race last year in 2hr 11min 19sec. Photo: Peak To Peak.
An endurance race in Queenstown from The Remarkables skifield to Coronet Peak via Lake Wakatipu is expected to attract 350 to 400 athletes today.

Peak to Peak competitors will ski or snowboard, mountain bike, kayak, run and road bike the 44km race.

The annual event, split into individual, team and junior categories, attracts multisport athletes as well as amateur enthusiasts keen to take up the challenge.

Local Andrew Finnigan has signed up for the team event with his Hirepool Queenstown colleagues.

He is one of four teams competing in their own "mini" competition made up of rival Wakatipu businesses.

Finnigan, who is completing the run section, says there are a few boxes of beer on the line, as well as bragging rights.

Also in his team are Deane Crabbe on skis, Greg Cayford on the downhill bike, Brendon Ross completing the kayak leg and Antony Smit rounding off the race in the uphill bike.  Training has been "reasonably minimal" but rivalry is pitched as a key motivator. Finnigan completed the run in 37min last year and he is hoping he can match that.

"The pressure for me is I know the people going before me are quite fast. I might be a little further up the field than I would like to be. There will be a little bit of pressure to hold my position. If I can hold it,  I will be ecstatic."

Queenstown athlete Paul Preston, who has entered previously in a team, is competing in the individual race and hopes to cross the finish line in about two and a-half hours.His biggest challenge will be Lake Wakatipu.

"Staying upright in a kayak. If I can get through that without falling out, I should have a chance at staying up there with the top boys."

Preston says athletes need to mentally prepare for the race and describes Coronet Peak as a tough slog.

"That is definitely the deal-breaker in the race. Getting up there is a real lung-burner and your legs will be a bit tired by then — you just push through and get up there."

He is using the race as a  forerunner to the Xterra World Championship in Hawaii in October. Organiser Geoff Hunt says the race format is changing slightly due to a lack of snow on The Remarkables’ Homeward Bound run. Competitors will ski down the Calypso trail instead.

"It will be a very fast ski [race] this year, coming down to the ridge line."

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